"We called him Willie. From day one he seemed a little weird," an employee who was close to William Hershkovitz told Ynet. Hershkovitz, an American volunteer of the 'Oranim' American-Israeli work exchange program and an employee at the Leonardo Club Hotel in Eilat, murdered another employee on Friday and was then killed by the police's counterterrorism unit.
"He used to say he wanted to change the world," Hershkovitz's friend said, "but neither of us thought he would take it this far."
"He had messy hair and didn't talk clearly. As if he was on something every single minute. He hardly ever spoke, and everyone thought he was weird." The employee stressed that despite everything, no one expected Hershkovitz to act as he did. "It was a complete shock" he said, "but as soon as I heard the victim was Armando (Abed), I knew it was William who did it, as the two had a severe conflict going on."
Emergency forces outside the hotel. (Photo: Meir Ohayon)
"On the day before the incident (Thursday), William seemed uneasy. He arrived at work at 6 am and was extremely edgy. He came through the back door so that no one could see him. He kept walking in and out, his legs were shaking, and his behavior was extremely weird." The hotel employee told Ynet, "It was really hard communicating with him, both because of his strange behavior and because he spoke English."
According to the employee, the night before the murder, Hershkovitz got drunk and "kept complaining how bad he was doing."
Hotel lobby lobby last night. (Photo: Meir Ohayon)
"Everyone knew he was coming for Armando, he wanted to close the deal with him," the employee said, "I was in the dinning room during the shooting, while it all happened in the kitchen downstairs. We heard it all. We heard one shot, and then everyone got scared and started running.
"Two additional shots were then heard from the same place, and another one from the lobby," he recalled.
AP reported that according to an anonymous participant in the program, Hershkovitz threatened to kill other program participants in the past, but management ignored their complaints. "He used to talk to himself and tell us of dreams where he randomly killed people, and often cursed Arabs and Nazis."
Employees suffer anxiety attacks. (Photo: Meir Ohayon)
The southern resort management is determined to go back to 'business as usual', with varied music shows playing in the lobby. However, the tragedy is far from being forgotten, at least with the hotel's employees.
The atmosphere amongst the employees is harsh. Some of them have suffered anxiety attacks and were forced to take extensive breaks.
The hotel chef, who was evacuated to the hospital with a panic attack, had trouble getting back to work as well. He arrived at the hotel early in the morning, but soon had to go back to the hospital for further anxiety treatment.
Close friends of the chef told Ynet they have never seen him this anxious. "He was always such a cheerful person. But after what happened with his souse chef, he's a wreck. He keeps thinking that it could have been him who got killed, and he is going through an emotional breakdown. It is after all his closest right hand man who was killed," one friend said.
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