Ithacans met the news that a city police officer had been shot with a mixture of horror and shock, taking to social media in the early morning hours Friday to find a sense of community in their collective fear and condolences.
“My prayers and thoughts are with the police officer injured and his family,” Marilene Barros, who lives in Ithaca, said on Facebook. “God bless us all and keep us out of harmful ways.”
Eliza VanCourt also expressed her dismay about the shooting.
“This is horrific,” she said on Facebook. “I know several people on the force. So worried.”
The Ithaca Fire Department, which assisted in the investigation, expressed its support for Ithaca Police Officer Anthony Augustine, who, as of 5:15 a.m., was still in surgery for his injuries.
“The thoughts and prayers of all the Ithaca firefighters are with Officer Augustine” — who was alert and conscious when he was airlifted to a hospital in Syracuse — “and our city’s entire public safety family,” IFD said on its Facebook page at about 6:45 a.m.
The shooting followed another major public safety scare: Earlier Thursday, several buildings on the Commons were evacuated due to reports that a “possible explosive device” had been left outside the Bank of America downtown.
“Cop shot near west village AND a bomb scare? Nothing like this happened when I lived there,” Lauren Siegert said on Twitter.
On Wednesday, just one day before the bomb scare and shooting, Ithaca had been named the “most security” city with a population under 150,000 by the Farmers Insurance company — an irony not lost on city residents.
“So much for that ‘safe town’ award,” Rebecca Cameron, a laboratory technician at Cornell, said on Facebook.
“Yeah, safe in what areas?” C.J. DelVecchio ’88, a broker in Ithaca, responded.
Throughout the night, as police cars sped through the city and helicopters flew about in search of the shooter — who remained at large for several hours — Ithacans also tweeted out messages of fear.
“Going to sleep to the sweet sounds of whirring helicopter blades,” tweeted Isha T. “Will sleep better when the person is caught & they’re gone.”
Jess Anne S. said that the knowledge that the shooter had not been caught at the time of her message made her uneasy.
“Hope they catch the punk that shot the officer,” she added.
Mary Dart Blinn, writing on Facebook, agreed.
"I hope the officer will be okay and that they catch the person who did it," Blinn said. "My thought are with his family."
Perhaps summarizing the sentiment of all was DelVecchio, who said, “It has been a strange day in Ithaca, N.Y.”