Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Slain Coney Island grandmother Anna Surman's family 'in shock'

From the Daily News by Henrick Karoliszyn and Jonathan Lemire:

Stunned relatives of an 87-year-old grandmother killed by a stray bullet in Coney Island planned for her funeral Monday as cops hunted the warring gunmen who claimed her life.

Anna Surman was sitting on a bench in the courtyard of the Surfside Gardens Houses admiring the flowers and feeding a neighbor's cat when a bullet pierced her neck Sunday afternoon.

Surman, a retired history professor in her native Moscow, died within minutes, and the killing outraged her fellow Russian immigrants who live in the towering housing project.

"She loved going out in the courtyard once a day if she could," said Yelena Lkicheva, 47. "She loved being outside [and] it's ridiculous she died because of going out there."

That courtyard remained the center of the NYPD's investigation, though detectives have not been able to locate a surveillance camera that captured a clear image of the two men whose gun battle sprayed the fatal bullet, a police source said.

Detectives were scouring nearby buildings late Monday in hopes that the two men started their disagreement elsewhere and were filmed. Witnesses told cops the two men were in their 20s, and one of them was wearing a red cap, the sources said.

Surman, who doted on her granddaughter and two adult sons, was part of a tight-knit family who were reeling over her senseless death.

"The family is in shock," said a male relative who did not give his name. "We are planning a funeral right now and we can't believe it."

Surman moved to the Surfside Gardens building nearly 15 years ago. Despite her frail health, she took a daily walk around the building and had a kind word for everyone she encountered, her friends said.

"She was so nice to everybody," said Tatyana Tabak, 81. "She really cared about everyone. She'd help anyone if they needed it."

"It's a tragedy to live all those years and get killed like that," said Sam Lugo, who witnessed the shooting.

"She was coughing blood," said Lugo, 42. "She said, 'I'm dying. I'm going to die,' then she lost consciousness."

Community activists and politicians gathered at the W.31st St. building Monday to mourn Surman and condemn the gun violence that has shattered the neighborhood recently.

"A nice lady with a big heart lost her life for nothing," said the local assemblyman, Alec Brook-Krasny. "We've had many shootings here. It's terrible."

At least eight people have been murdered this year in the 60th Precinct, which includes Surfside Gardens, more than double the three homicides during the same period a year ago.


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