New Paltz alumnus William Hershkovitz, 23, was killed in a shootout with Israeli police after he killed a chef at the Leonardo Club Hotel in Eliat on Friday,
Oct. 5, according to multiple news reports.
As the news of Hershkovitz’s death quickly spread, those who knew him expressd grief and shock.
“I think my first reaction to what happened was complete disbelief. I just didn’t want to believe that it was him,” Emily Atkin, 23, who graduated from SUNY New Paltz in May 2011 with a journalism degree said. “I saw that my friend Kathy [Kim] had posted an article speculating that it might have been ‘our’ [Hershkovitz].”
According to The Poughkeepsie Journal, Hershkovitz had been in Israel for about two months prior to the shooting, and had been working at the hotel as part of the Oranim program, which combines Hebrew study, travel and work.
“It’s sad his legacy is that he shot and killed someone,” Kathy Kim who graduated from New Paltz in May 2012 with a journalism degree said. “The smile that he had didn’t show that.”
Atkin said she remembers seeing Hershkovitiz frequently on campus.
“We all hung out in Lefevre, in G11, and Willie was always there. As college went on and we moved out into apartments in town, he’d come to our parties and hang out in our living rooms with his skateboard,” she said.
Atkin said that after the first two years of college she and Hershkovitz drifted apart.
“I think it’s important to note that I didn’t know [Hershkovitz] for the last three years,” she said. “I think a lot of people had a tendency to do that to [him]… he was very passionate and animated and I think some people found him to be a little much.”
Kim said the last thing she heard about Hershkovitz was from a friend of hers who spoke with him a year ago, and said he was thinking about settling down and starting a
Atkin said his smile is something she will always remember him by.
“It was so distinct — after I heard what happened it was literally all I could think about,” she said. “The crazy thing was, I would call my friends to talk about what had happened and they would say the same thing.”