- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 27, 2001

WAKEFIELD, Mass. (AP) Joan O'Donnell knew her only by sight, the young Edgewater Technology worker she often passed on her way to church.
But yesterday, one year after Jennifer Bragg Capobianco and six co-workers were shot to death, Miss O'Donnell was among more than 100 people who filed into St. Joseph's Catholic Church to honor the victims and remember an event that forever changed this town.
"You always thought in this quiet town you could almost know every day what was going to happen until you heard those helicopters," Miss O'Donnell said.
St. Joseph's, just across the street from Edgewater's offices in Wakefield, served as a refuge for people who ran from the company's offices on Dec. 26, 2000, as a man opened fire inside.
Prosecutors say Michael McDermott, a software engineer, gunned down seven of his colleagues because he was angry that Edgewater was about to start withholding wages to pay his back taxes.
Among those at yesterday's service was Jim Herman, who worked at Edgewater until a month before the shooting.
"I know what I feel. It must be 10 times worse" for others, he said, adding that he also wondered how close he, too, came to dying.
"I'm actually pretty convinced it would have been me if I had been there," he said.
Local residents joined victims' family members and co-workers at the service yesterday, reciting psalms and singing hymns in their memory. As they filed out of the church and walked back to work, some Edgewater workers left flowers at a sign near the company's entrance.
Miss O'Donnell, a St. Joseph's parishioner, said the community has grown stronger in the year since the shooting.
At St. Joseph's, a plaque commemorating the victims has been erected in the church entryway, and a new bronze cross adorns the roof, purposely pointing toward the shooting site.
The Rev. Michael Steele said the service was meant to focus on "the gift of hope," but that it had been a hard year for the community. One church official lost his father in the September 11 attacks.
"Healing takes a long time," Father Steele said.
Father Steele knew Mrs. Capobianco, 29, who had just returned to work after she and her husband, Jeff, had a daughter. Father Steele had officiated at their wedding.
Before Father Steele officiated at another wedding recently, the bride gave him a check and asked that he give it to Mr. Capobianco.
"She said, 'We just want to do this for him.' She didn't know him at all," Father Steele said. "This kind of thing has happened throughout the year."
Mr. Capobianco, an emergency medical technician, is raising his daughter, Eva, now 14 months, with the help of his family.
"It's been very difficult for all of us," said his mother, Mary Capobianco.
Mr. McDermott, whose trial is scheduled to begin March 4, has pleaded not guilty. His attorney, Kevin Reddington, has said he will use an insanity defense.
Prosecutors say Mr. McDermott, using an AK-47 semiautomatic rifle and a 12-gauge pump action shotgun, first shot human resources head Cheryl Troy, 50, and office manager Janice Hagerty, 46, who were in the lobby. Law-enforcement officials say he then went to a mezzanine area, where he shot consulting director Louis Javelle, 58, of Nashua, N.H.
Craig Wood and Mrs. Capobianco were killed as they worked at their desks. Technician Paul Marceau, 36, and payroll accountant Rose Manfredi, 48, were shot to death through a door.
In all, 30 bullets hit the victims.
After the shootings, the company established the Edgewater Wakefield Memorial Foundation Inc., which raised more than $500,000 for the families of the seven victims. It also planted an apple tree at its headquarters as a memorial.


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