The Beersheba bank where Itamar Alon, 40, killed four people before taking his own life on Monday, was re-opened for business Tuesday morning after maintenance crews finished cleaning up the bloodstains and plastering over the bullet holes left by the rampage.
During the night, Beersheba residents visited the scene of the tragedy and placed memorial candles and flowers near the entrance.
According to eyewitness accounts, Alon — who was overdrawn at the bank and had failed to sort out his finances — targeted two bank employees during his murderous spree, shooting them multiple times to make sure they were dead.
He also killed two customers who happened to be in the bank. Then, as police assembled outside the neighborhood branch of Bank Hapoalim, Alon, an ex-security guard and a decorated IDF officer, took an additional employee hostage (she survived the ordeal); ultimately, he shot and killed himself.
One additional victim, whose details have not been released, was severely wounded and was transferred to Soroka Medical Center after police secured the bank. This individual was shot four times in the back and stomach.
On Tuesday morning he had stabilized and was in moderate condition, although he remained sedated and on a respirator in the intensive care unit, the hospital said.
Avner Cohen, 44, the branch manager, was one of the employees targeted by Alon. Cohen only began managing the Bank Hapoalim branch last week, after running a branch in a Bedouin town near Beersheba. Cohen, who had recently spent three years in the US on leave from the bank, is survived by his wife Yifat and three children, ages 6, 13 and 18.
Cohen’s aunt, Zahava Tapiro, was the last family member to see Cohen before he died. Tapiro told Ynet News that she had come to the branch in the morning to invite Cohen to her son’s wedding, and that she and Cohen sat together for a while, sharing jokes and laughter. Tapiro said she had left the bank, but was about to return when her husband called and told her what had happened.
Cohen’s daughter heard about the shooting on the radio while in school, Maariv reported, and began to suspect the worst after repeated calls to her father’s cellphone were not answered.
Cohen’s funeral was held early Tuesday evening in Omer, just outside of Beersheba.
Meir Zeitoun, 40, a deputy manager at the bank and a father of three, was the other bank employee targeted by Alon.
Zeitoun was described by relatives as “a great person,” someone who loved his work at the bank, and who was “compassionate and open,” according to a Ynet report. His sister-in-law said “he was a loving husband and the greatest father in the world. He was involved in everything, always looking out for everyone. He was optimistic, happy and loved life.”
His brother-in-law said the family had been planning to throw a surprise birthday party for Zeitoun on Thursday.
Zeitoun was buried Monday evening and hundreds attended the funeral, including Bank Hapoalim CEO Zion Kenan.
Anat Ben-Haim, 34, who was a bank customer, was also killed; she left behind an 11-year-old daughter and 4-year-old twins.
Ben-Haim was recently divorced and worked in the office of a wholesale distributor. Her ex-husband, Shimon Even-Haim, told Maariv that they had separated a few months ago. “The children stayed with Anat and I had visitation rights,” he said. “Immediately after the disaster, the kids were with me and I intend to raise them.”
According to a neighbor’s account, Ben-Haim had gone to the bank only as a favor for her sister, who had to deposit some money at the branch.
Ben-Haim’s was buried on Tuesday afternoon in Beersheba.
The fourth victim, Idan Savri, 22, a Beersheba native, recently concluded his IDF service. Savri, who worked as a bus driver, was an only child and his parents were divorced. His father moved to Argentina several years ago and was initially unaware of the incident, Maariv reported.
According to a relative’s account, Savri had gone to the bank to open a new account. “He went to open a bank account. It seems to me that this was the first time he ever went there,” a cousin said. “He had such a zest for life, he was always smiling. He loved life and cared for his mother very much,” she added.
Savri’s funeral in Beersheba was held on Tuesday afternoon.