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Suspect Arrested as Friends Mourn “the Best Father”

Originally published in The New York Times “The Local”

By AN H. PHUNG
and GEOFFREY DECKER

October 13, 2010

Huddled around a heart-shaped array of candles in the lobby of the housing development where shooting victim Terrell Canty grew up, family and friends mourned his death Tuesday night and remembered the 33-year-old as a dedicated father, a role model and a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan.

“This is a devastating loss,” said Edna Peete, a family friend who said she saw Mr. Canty grow up. “This is the worst loss that’s happened here in a long time.”

Mr. Canty’s life was cut short Tuesday morning when a gunman shot him in the chest and leg as he walked out of the Lafayette Deli, at the corner of Lafayette and Classon Avenues, police said. Mr. Canty was pronounced dead on arrival at Brooklyn Hospital shortly after the 8:30 a.m. shooting, police said.

A suspect in the shooting was arrested at around 4 or 5 p.m. yesterday, said a spokesman for the 88th Precinct, but he declined further comment on the arrest. Witnesses reported seeing police escort a man in handcuffs into the 88th Precinct Tuesday afternoon after a brief chase.

The shooting took place a block from the precinct house yesterday morning, and a block from Mr. Canty’s home in Lafayette Gardens. Another, non-fatal, shooting happened just steps away from the same spot in August.

In the aftermath of yesterday’s shooting, a steady stream of visitors gathered to shed tears, exchange hugs and write personal messages to Mr. Canty on cardboard signs taped to a wall above the candle memorial.

The heartfelt messages on the signs told the story of a man – known simply as “Unique” – revered by his community. He was admired most for his commitment to fatherhood. Mr. Canty split the custody of his 11-year old son, Fyness, with the boy’s mother, said friends, who described the father and son as inseparable.

“He was all about taking care of his son,” said Camelot Busch, a neighbor who shared a common hobby of stamp collecting with Mr. Canty. She also said he was a positive role model who spent time with her teenage son, fixing motorcycles.

“He’d do for his son like no other,” said Darryl Dozier, Fyness’ uncle. “He was the best father.”

Mr. Canty was a father figure to many around Lafayette Gardens, according to Jose Guzman, who grew up across the hall and who referred to him as “my second father” on the wall.

“He uplifted you,” said Mr. Guzman. “No matter how you were feeling.”

Outside of Lafayette Deli, where the shooting took place, friends arranged candles next to several bottles of Corona, Mr. Canty’s favorite beverage. A handful of mourners stood quietly and reflected yesterday evening.

Friends described Mr. Canty as an avid fitness enthusiast whose morning workouts in a nearby park were a daily ritual. Despite a relatively small build, Mr. Canty’s true love was basketball, as both a fan and participant. He played often and insisted that people call him Kobe Bryant, the All-Star guard on his beloved Los Angeles Lakers whose style he modeled his game on.

Friends remembered Mr. Canty’s pure bliss when the Lakers won the NBA Finals last spring, and said he relished any opportunity to remind them which team was the defending champion.

Ms. Busch told The Local Tuesday that Mr. Canty worked for Barney’s New York, but a spokesperson for the department store said Thursday that no one of that name worked there.

Ms. Busch said that Mr. Canty’s family was upstairs in his apartment Tuesday evening. They declined to comment, she said, adding, “It’s not a good time right now.”

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