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Victims honored

Thousands attend benefit

August 11, 2008
By LISA M. HOFFMANN, Staff Writer

IRON MOUNTAIN - Some 8,000 people attended a benefit concert Sunday to show their support for the families of victims in the July 31 shooting at the East Kingsford train bridge.

The benefit kicked off with the Men's and Women's VFW Auxiliary Post 3674 riding in on Harley Davidson motorcycles and then releasing pink and blue balloons in honor of those killed when a gunman opened fire on a group of young people on July 31.

The pink balloons represented Tiffany Pohlson and the blue balloons represented Bryan Mort and Anthony Spigarelli.

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Thousands of people, top photo, attended the benefit Sunday to show their support for the families of victims in the July 31 shooting. For more photos, visit the CU site at

A $500 check was presented to Daryle Ryan of Bad Axe Rodeo and manager of Home Depot from the Iron Mountain Men's and Women's Auxiliary to help cover the costs of the concert.

The concert was organized in one week with the help of volunteers, businesses and community members.

Rev. David Snyder, pastor for United Methodist Church and Mort's family, thanked the community for the support. There was a moment of silence and the prayer "Guide Us Through These Dark Days" was read.

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"Dear Lord, the families, friends and community are torn up with grief over the loss of Tiffany, Tony and Bryan," Snyder said. "We know you are there but some cannot see past their sorrow and tears right now. Be with them Lord and do not take their unhappiness to heart. Rather work within them to guide them through these dark days so they may see your goodness within them. In your name, Amen."

After recognizing the three victims' families, Snyder in a prayer thanked the three victims for the joy they brought to the lives of everyone they knew. He also thanked law enforcement and everyone involved.

More than 100 law enforcement agencies responded to help find the gunman following the shootings. Scott Johnson, 38, of Kingsford was arrested after a 16-hour manhunt the next morning.

Agencies mentioned at the concert for being on the ground July 31 were Dickinson County Sheriff's Department, Florence County, Iron Mountain Police, Kingsford Public Safety, Marinette County Sheriff's Department, Niagara Police, Iron County Sheriff's Department and Breitung Township Fire and Rescue.

A family boating on the Menominee River the day of the shooting that helped out was recognized for assisting the Mort family and giving his family the opportunity to spend time with their son before he passed away. They were presented with a red, white and blue afghan.

"Every door has been opened for us. We thank everyone of you out here tonight," Ryan said. "We just wanted you all to be recognized for what you did."

Ryan said the concert would have somber moments, but was being held to celebrate the victims' lives and help heal the community.

The first song sang at the concert by Bad Axe Rodeo was "Amazing Grace."

David Mort, younger brother of Bryan Mort, said the benefit concert was the greatest thing that could come from the shooting.

"It's really great to see this community really cares for everybody. We thank everybody for what they've done," David Mort said.

There were a lot of hugs at the event.

Volunteers helped to make the benefit a success. There was even a shuttle bus to help transport benefit goers from where they parked their vehicles.

Phyllis Williams of Norway said the benefit was "awesome."

"I think it's wonderful," said Audrey Dallapiazza of Spread Eagle, Wis. "I'm here because my granddaughter graduated with Anthony Spigarelli and Bryan Mort. I think it's all very nice."

Joan Spengler of Vulcan, in attendance at the benefit with her husband, Ron, repeated that sentiment.

"It's awesome. We came on behalf of the family and donated all we can. I can't believe the turnout at half after six," she said. "Nobody is shy about donating."

Ryan estimated about 8,000 people came to the event.

The total amount raised for families at the benefit was still being counted this morning. It was expected to be in the thousands of dollars.

Besides food and drinks being sold, cotton candy was also being made and sold and T-shirts were being sold to help support the three families.

To order a T-shirt to help support the Mort family, contact All American Design of Iron Mountain.

"Amazing outpouring from the community. The community was great," Ryan said.

Three murals to represent and honor the victims were displayed at the benefit.

Spengler said she could tell Mort, Spigarelli and Pohlson were at the benefit in spirit.

"We're hoping this becomes an annual event, and there are scholarships in the victims' names so their memory lives on," Spengler said.

Sam Johnson of Pembine, Wis., said although he didn't know any of the victims, he attended to help and support the families.

Kay Peitrzyk of Quinnesec said her daughter was a very close friend of Tony's (Spigarelli).

"It's a horrible, horrible situation," she said.

Chantil Rouse of Niagara, Wis., said the benefit was wonderful.

"I'm here because I feel it could have been my niece and nephew, and I would want someone to do this for them," she said.

Dickinson County Undersheriff Scott Celello said the benefit was well attended and well organized and there were no problems at all.

"Traffic issues, concerns were met by the shuttle bus," he said.

Other bands that played at the benefit were Hourglass, Schizophonic, Road Head and King Mountain Minsterels.

Moto X rider Scott Murray of Helps also entertained the crowd with a variety of stunts.

An auction and silent auction were held. The benefit ended at midnight.

Dave Sullivan, a sound technician from Iron Mountain, was the major player in getting the bands together and organized.

"Without the bands, we couldn't have done this," said his wife, Caroline Sullivan, who help coordinate the event.

To make a monetary donation, make checks payable to The First National Bank and Trust Co. of Iron Mountain-Kingsford, 233 S. Stephenson Ave., Iron Mountain, MI 49801 and state "Benefit for the families of Mort, Pohlson and Spigarelli."

To donate to just one family, specify to which account the money should go.

Lisa M. Hoffmann's e-mail address is



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