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Hundreds Grieve Slain Principal; Teen Charged With Murder

December 19, 1992

NEW YORK (AP) _ Grade schoolers joined hundreds of mourners to grieve the death of a principal who was fatally shot in a housing project as he looked for a young pupil who had strayed from school.

Police said Patrick Daly apparently was caught in crossfire when a shootout among three people broke out, apparently over drugs.

″When he’d bring us to lunch, we’d stand in line and sing songs,″ D’Anna Smith, a third-grader, said Friday as hundreds of neighborhood residents crowded into P.S. 15 to honor Daly. ″I’m going to miss him.″

Shamel Burroughs, 17, who lives in the project, was charged with second- degree murder Friday. Two other people were being sought, said Vincent Pizzo, chief of detectives for the city Housing Police Department.

Daly, who frequently walked children home to make sure they were safe, was hailed as a hero at the school in Brooklyn’s Red Hook section.

″We must as best we can celebrate a life well-lived, as was the case when we lost Robert Kennedy and John Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X,″ Mayor David Dinkins said.

In the school, which has 650 pupils from pre-kindergarten to sixth grade, children were encouraged to write about their memories of Daly or to draw as therapy to cope with the loss.

The 48-year-old father of three had gone to look for a fourth-grader who left school after a fight when he got caught in the shootout police said was triggered by a drug dispute.

Daly, who had been at the school as a teacher and administrator for 26 years, often walked children home through a maze of 25 project buildings where drug dealers have set up shop and the sound of gunfire is common.

His efforts were featured in a March 1991 NBC Nightly News report titled, ″Things That Work.″

After the show aired, District Superintendent Bill Casey recalled, Daly wondered ″what all the fuss was about because he just saw it as part of his daily routine.″

As far back as 20 years ago, Daly was walking pupils home, said Ramon Estepa Jr., who was in the sixth grade then.

″Most of the teachers were scared to walk the kids home,″ Estepa said.

After putting wreaths at the site of the shooting and observing a moment of silence, Dinkins told mourners that violent crime in Red Hook had fallen in the last year and that the city wouldn’t backtrack from those gains.

″We’re not going to let thugs take it away,″ he said.

But Estepa wasn’t sure. ″It’s not good to stay out here when the cops leave,″ he said. ″I don’t recommend anybody living here.″

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