Ga. Brokerage Massacre Remembered

Monday, July 31st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DECATUR, Ga. (AP) — It's been a painful year for the families and friends of the nine people killed last summer at two Atlanta brokerage offices.

Many of them came together to share their experiences at a memorial service in a suburban Atlanta church Sunday, a year and a day after former trader Mark Barton began firing randomly through All-Tech Investment Group's trading office.

Liz Webb, whose brother Scott Webb was killed July 29, 1999, said she decided to visit the building where her brother traded and died. But it didn't ease her grief, she said.

``It never leaves,'' Webb said after the service, wiping tears from her eyes. ``It never goes away.''

The service was organized by Dr. Gulshan Harjee, whose husband was killed in Barton's spree at All-Tech and Momentum Securities. Harjee said she hoped the service might allow victims' families to visit and offer each other solace.

Police said Barton, who had reportedly lost more than $400,000 from his investments, killed his wife and two young children the day before his rampage.

The three — Leigh Ann Barton, and her children, Matthew and Michelle — were included in the service bulletin, and a candle for each victim was lighted at the front of the church.

Hours after the shooting, Barton fatally shot himself when police stopped his minivan at a convenience store northwest of Atlanta.

The incident has prompted close public scrutiny of the industry, in which people rapidly buy and sell shares electronically, hoping to profit from the market's slight price swings.

Victims and their relatives also have filed 10 lawsuits in the past year, naming as defendants the brokerages, their landlords, their security firms and Barton's estate.

But Sunday, the focus remained the pain of loss and the search for strength coping with it. About 2,000 people attended the ecumenical service at The Cathedral at Chapel Hill, an interdenominational church.

``Sometimes survival depends on our ability to cry, to feel the hurt,'' said Archbishop Earl Paulk, the church's founder, urging the families to strive for a ``sense of forgiveness'' even if they consider Barton's actions unforgivable.

A year later, ``it's no longer who was wrong, it's no longer who made the mistake, it's about how we deal with it,'' he said.

For some at the service, dealing with it is almost a full-time occupation.

``Every single day, it's a reminder. Every single day,'' said Shala Havash, whose brother, Jamshid Havash, was killed. ``I can't forget that day.''