Two of the victims of Wednesday's explosion in East Harlem also shared their devotion to a nearby church. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
The aftershocks of the blast that leveled two Park Avenue buildings will be felt for a long time at an East Harlem Pentecostal church. That's where on Thursday, churchgoers prayed for Carmen Tanco and Griselde Camacho, longtime members of the Bethel Gospel Assembly. They were among the victims of the explosion that wiped out storefronts and the apartments above them.
"As soon as we saw that it was above the church and the piano store, we knew that this was our people involved," said Bishop Carlton Brown of the Bethel Gospel Assembly. "We knew that Carmen Tanco lived there, Griselde and her son and her mother."
Tanco was 67. She was a church member for than 20 years. Camacho was 44 and had been a regular for six years.
Others got the grim news about the women at a Wednesday night prayer service.
"Those that were here, they heard about it, and there were tears, but we felt that the word that we shared was consoling to us," Brown said.
Even in his grief, Brown said that the lives of the women should be celebrated for their devotion to helping others.
"These women were sold out to the Lord," Brown said. "They served the Lord with all of their heart."
For Tanco, that meant several trips abroad to spread the church's faith and goodwill. The pastor, Gordon Williams, said that Tanco had taken trips with other church members to the Dominican Republic, Nigeria and South Africa, and that she was already looking forward to the next mission of mercy in the Dominican Republic come July.
"Carmen said, she said, 'You know, Pastor Gordon, I'm excited about going,'" Williams said. "She said, 'I have a little bottle at home because I want to bless those little children in the Dominican Republic. I have a little bottle, and it's filling up with coins and dollars.'"
At the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, where Camacho worked as a public safety officer, colleagues mourned the mother once honored as the school's safety officer of the year.
"I just feel very sad about the whole situation 'cause I heard she was out sick, and this tragedy happened," said one colleague at Hunter College.
Fellow church members will remember the women and other victims of the explosion at a service on Sunday.