By Russ Tarby
“I thought I was dead.”
That’s what Lawrence Gabriel thought as he awaited the coup de grace from a frenzied gunman outside McAvan’s Pub on Super Bowl Sunday 2015 in Syracuse.
Gabriel, then 28 years old, had been shot four times, once each in his right arm and leg and twice in the abdomen as he and his cousin, Josh Kennedy, put shooter Michael Morris in a bear hug and dragged him outside the crowded bar.
Five other people — Douglas Spossey, Joshua Kennedy, Rich Lighton, Jake Palmer and Christina Voultsios — were also shot there that night, none fatally.
The 6-foot-4 bouncer who stopped the gunman has plenty of friends here in Liverpool. They were singing his praises down at The Cobblestone the day after the Super Bowl shooting.
While hailed as a hero, Gabriel not only endured serious physical wounds and five subsequent surgeries. He also endured a dream delayed.
The U.S. Army veteran who held full-time day-job sorting recyclables had signed a professional boxing contract a week before the shooting. His first professional bout was scheduled for Feb. 28, 2015, here in Liverpool.
Instead, he attended the “Legends in the Making” boxing card hosted that night by JKJ Championship Promotions at the Holiday Inn. Although wheelchair-bound, Gabriel announced, “I still want to box.” Donations were accepted for him at the door, and he was awarded some of the proceeds before the final bout.
Prizefights at Holiday Inn
Now, more than a year and a half after that bloody night on Tipperary Hill, Gabriel will finally realize his dream of boxing professionally with a bout scheduled sometime after 7 p.m. Saturday, July 30, at the Holiday Inn Convention Center on Electronics Parkway in the town of Salina.
Ticket prices range from $30 to $60. For info call JKJ at 761-2921.
Gabriel served four years in the Army, including a tour in Iraq, and he continued his service as an Army reservist. The father of two boys, he’s engaged to local gal Megan Holmes.
Meanwhile, on May 9, Michael Morris was sentenced to 45 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to the largest mass shooting in Syracuse history.
Ghostwalk returns in fall
Four years after a Historic Ghostwalk was staged here in Liverpool, another will be presented this year on four nights, Sept. 23 to 24 and Sept. 30 to Oct. 1.
Historic Ghostwalks are led by guides to locations in neighborhoods, buildings and cemeteries in which costumed actors portray individuals from our region’s past. The ghosts discuss their lives in 12 to 15 minute vignettes, giving personal insight to those who have preceded us.
“The 2012 event was tremendously successful,” said Liverpool Village Historian Dorianne Elitharp Gutierrez.
Onondaga Historical Association Executive Director Gregg Tripoli, who grew up in Liverpool, agrees. “Ghostwalk is one of OHA’s most popular programs,” he said.
The 2016 Ghostwalk will be co-sponsored by the Village Historian’s Office, Onondaga Historical Association, Liverpool Public Library and the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce.
OHA’s education specialist, actor Scott Peal, directs the Ghostwalks; cnyhistory.org.
Don’t cry for ‘Evita’
Actor and Liverpool resident Liam Fitzpatrick steals the show from Erin Williamson Sills, who stars as Eva Peron in the current CNY Playhouse presentation of the Webber & Rice rock opera “Evita.” Fitzpatrick’s vibrant tenor has never sounded so full-bodied, so powerful as it does in his portrayal of “Che,” a one-man Greek chorus who questions the Machiavellian machinations of the legendary Argentinian first lady.
Fitzpatrick’s partner and fellow Liverpudlian, the talented pianist Abel Searor, directed this “Evita” and conducts its seven-piece pit band.
“Evita” runs at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, July 28, 29 and 30 and Aug. 4, 5 and 6 and at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 31, at CNY Playhouse located near the Macy’s entrance at DeWitt’s Shoppingtown Mall; Tickets cost $22 on Thursday and Sunday and $25 on Friday and Saturday; 885-8960; cnyplayhouse.com.
The columnist can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.