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Brooklyn mother dies shielding schoolchildren from gunfire

October 22, 2011 |  8:21 am

A Brooklyn neighborhood was in mourning Saturday for a mother who died trying to shield a group of children from gunfire just after they were dismissed from an elementary school, according to news reports.

An 11-year-old girl and another parent were also hit by bullets during the Friday after-school shootings, police said.

Zurana Horton, 34, “was seen moments before she was shot hovering over several children to protect them as shots were fired,” a police report said. She died Friday at the scene. Neighbors are saying that Horton had 13 of her own children and that she might have been pregnant, NY1 said.

Family members told the New York Post that Horton had been planning to move from the crime-ridden  Brownsville area of Brooklyn. “She’s getting married, but now she can’t do any of that,” her cousin told the Post. Neighbors who had gathered at her home were expressing sadness and outrage,  news reports said Saturday.

The tragedy unfolded shortly after students were released from Public School 298, also known as Bette Shabazz School. The students were dispersing when a gunman on a nearby rooftop opened fire on a group of rivals, police told reporters. Horton and another mother, who was also picking up children from school, were across the street at the Lucky Supermarket when the shooting started. Horton shielded several children from the bullets.

“She probably saved lives,” police spokesman Paul Browne said.

A sixth-grader, who is 11, was grazed on the cheek and another 31-year-old mother was struck by bullets in her arm and chest. Both were treated at a hospital Friday night.

Police apparently retrieved 12 shell casings from an automatic pistol from the streets in the area. Investigators are looking at whether the shooting was related to a fight between groups of teenagers on the street below where the gunman was perched atop the five-story-building. A $12,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the shooter. The organization 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement is offering $1,000 on top of that, NY1 reported.

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-- Geraldine Baum in New York

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