Terence Burt, 35, of 109-65 142nd St., was hit in the chest by what appeared to be a stray bullet from a dispute in which two others were also shot, police said.
"It was literally wrong place, wrong time," said Cher Windham, Burt's sister. "He was an innocent bystander. He had nothing to do with this."
Burt, who worked in construction, left the gym at JHS 8 at 167th Street and 108th Avenue about 7:49 p.m. Feb. 24 after attending a basketball tournament there, Windham said. Burt loved to play and watch games, but Windham was unsure which he was doing that night, she said.
Shortly after leaving the school, Burt was caught in crossfire that detectives believe was aimed at Anthony Houston, 36, who was shot in the hip, police said. Burt was shot once in the chest, and another bystander, Dermoth Cross, 24, was shot in the leg.
Houston was in stable condition at Mary Immaculate Hospital, and Cross was also listed as stable at Jamaica Hospital, police said. Addresses for both were unavailable.
It appeared that Houston, who was arrested in September on murder charges but released when a witness refused to testify, was the gunman's target, and Burt and Cross were on the street when the shooting started, police said.
No arrests had been made and the investigation was continuing, police said.
Burt was a dedicated family man who was a father figure to his four younger siblings, Windham said. He had three children of his own - a 3-year-old son with his wife, Angela, and two daughters, 5 and 7, from a previous relationship - and was a stepfather to Angela Burt's three other children, Windham said.
"They saw him daily," she said, referring specifically to his daughters. "He spent quality time with them. He sat down with them and helped them with their homework."
Burt, a quiet and playful man, was just as dedicated to his favorite basketball team, the New York Knicks, Windham said.
"He was a Knick fan," she said. "No matter how bad they got, he still loved them."
A viewing was scheduled for Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Mount Moriah AME Church, with the funeral service planned for 7 p.m., Windham said. The church is at 116-20 Francis Lewis Blvd. in Cambria Heights.
Windham hopes the community will turn out in force to protest violence in the area, she said.
"People need a wake-up call," she said. "They need to know what's going on out here."
Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.
©2004 Community News Group
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