The deadly explosions in Sri Lanka over the weekend are personal for a lot of people, even some in the Valley. A Cortland man who teaches math at Kent State Trumbull grew up there and still has family there.
On Tuesday, ISIS claimed responsibility for the Easter Sunday bombings that killed 321 people and hurt 500 others.
New surveillance video appears to show at least one of the suicide bombers. Police have arrested 40 people.
“First, we were really in shock when we heard this story,” Vic Perera said.
He and his family were at a friend’s house for dinner after Easter Mass when they heard about the explosions.
“That’s when we heard, like, past midnight and everyone was in shock,” he said.
Perera moved to the U.S. 20 years ago. He and his family visit Sri Lanka a few times a year.
Perera grew up six miles from the capital city of Colombo in a coastal area where many kinds of people live.
“Being a capital area, so Muslims, Tamils, Sinhalese, everyone is there. So it’s like a welcoming area,” he said.
His family went to St. Anthony’s Church, which was the site of one of the deadliest bombings.
“The main services are on Tuesdays so my family used to go there, kind of every Tuesday,” Perera said.
Thankfully, his family members weren’t hurt in the attacks, but he did know other people who were.
“Many friends,” Perera said. “We keep hearing all these sad stories, unfortunately.”
It’s a tragedy he won’t forget, but he said you have to move forward, keep the faith and think positively.
“These isolated incidents, even though they are terrible — grow from it. People can always come back.”