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David Cary Hart, 54, of Manhattan, was shot in the lower back about 5:15 p.m., just minutes after he left his office at the school's 32-03 Steinway St. branch, police said.
"He's alert," Drake President Donna Hallam said. "He wants his laptop computer back. His spirits are good and he wants to get back to work as soon as possible."
Sujit Barua was working at a newsstand at the Steinway Street underground station when he was startled by the sound of the gunshot. He said frightened subway riders fled.
"They were afraid and I was nervous," Barua said. "And then I see the guy laying down in the corner."
The station, which serves the G, R and V lines, was shut down for three hours after the shooting, Barua said.
Hart, who Hallam said has been the Drake School's CEO since February, was taken to Elmhurst General Hospital where he underwent surgery Monday night, police said.
A motive in the assault had not been determined, they said. No arrests had been made and the investigation was continuing.
The Drake School, which also has branches in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, specializes in one-year business and medical office assistant programs, after which students are placed in professional internships, Hallam said.
The Astoria branch has 260 students and offers day and evening classes. Hart was heading home to the Upper East Side carrying his laptop computer when he was shot, Hallam said.
"Some guy with a do-rag just walked up to him and pulled out a gun and shot him," said Virginia Glus, a teacher at the school.
Hallam described Hart as a fit and energetic man. She could not imagine why someone would shoot him and said it was unlikely it was a student because he does not work closely with them.
Students were anxious Tuesday to learn about Hart's condition. She said called together a group of them to report on his improved status.
"They were relieved when they found out he was okay," she said.
Intense media attention on the shooting forced Hallam to call off classes early Tuesday because students were being harassed by reporters, she said. She did not know if classes would run smoothly for the rest of the week.
"It's unfortunate because I had to take away from their education," Hallam said. "It turned into a circus. I think we got more press than the president's speech last night and that's sad."
Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at email@example.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2004 Community Newspaper Group
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