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AFTER LOSING ONE SON VIOLENTLY, NOW ANOTHER
MOTHER COPES WITH GRIEF AFTER A SHOOTING STIRS MEMORIES OF A STABBING 21 YEARS AGO

Brenda Smith is in a daze again, drying her tear-drenched face and grappling to cope with the loss of her second son on Buffalo's violent streets.

Her son, Daryl M. Smith, 26, a father of four children, was gunned down Saturday night on Genesee Street, near Bailey Avenue and Burgard Place.

In 1984, her 19-year-old son Robert M. Rivera, a University at Buffalo sophomore studying political science, was stabbed to death on Warwick Avenue.

"I just can't believe it. It's like, here I go again," Smith said in an interview Sunday. "I kept touching him at the hospital, but it just didn't seem real. . . . I don't know what I'm going to do."

Daryl Smith lived with his parents, Brenda and Montez, on Rapin Place, just off Genesee. He had three daughters -- Deja, 3, Danae, 5, Laqaysha, 9, -- and a son, Daryl, 9.

The murder has been especially hard on his son, who would often play video games and walk to his karate classes with his father at his side. For months, the boy had been scared to walk to the school bus stop for fear of being shot or kidnapped because of the piercing sound of flying bullets and stories of violence plaguing his neighborhood.

"My grandson is scared because he thinks someone will come and shoot him and he's terrified," Brenda Smith said. "I told him you can't be afraid. . . . Because of where we live, we see this every day, we live this every day. It's terrible when you have to live in fear, never knowing who's going to be next."

Homicide Detective Michael Mordino said Daryl Smith had just come out of a store at 1815 Genesee, a few blocks from his home, and sat in the passenger seat of a vehicle driven by his friend about 10 p.m. when a gunman emerged from between some nearby buildings and opened fire.

Police said that three rounds were fired and that Smith was struck multiple times in the back.

The driver took Smith to Erie County Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Detectives said that no arrest has been made but that they are following several leads.

Daryl Smith is the city's 15th murder victim this year, compared with 17 homicides at this time last year.

Brenda Smith acknowledges that her son had some brushes with the law. In January 2001, he was one of four people charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance after Buffalo narcotics detectives raided a Bird Avenue apartment and confiscated 98 bags of crack cocaine and $300. His mother said the charge was later dropped in court.

Daryl Smith also was the victim of a previous shooting. In December 1996, he was one of two men shot in front of Club Tanzanite, 2090 Genesee, after a gunman armed with a pump-action 12-gauge shotgun opened fire on them. At the time, he suffered pellet wounds to his face.

Brenda Smith says her son had been leading a crime-free life for the last three years. Her son, who dropped out of Burgard Vocational High School in his sophomore year, had been attending church services on Sundays and was helping his father remodel their home, she said.

In the 1990s, he worked a few jobs, including a stint as a dishwasher at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel and work on the loading dock at Kaufmann's department store.

"He was working toward changing his life for the better. He was looking for a job, he had a steady girlfriend and he was staying home a lot more and not hanging around on the corner," Brenda Smith said. "He always had a big smile on his face. He had a good heart."

e-mail: vthomas@buffnews.com

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