Daily News, September 30, 2011, "A Nabe Loses a Legend"


For 40 years, story spinner Andrew Burke held court inside the same Brooklyn barbershop — until a pair of murderous street punks shot him dead outside its front door.

The beloved 79-year-old died on a blood-soaked sidewalk as the killers’ intended target sprinted for safety through the shattered glass and scattered customers at Fest’s Barber Shop.

The gunmen and their would be victim remained on the lam yesterday as family and friends of the slain senior citizen struggled with an unexpectedly violent demise toanexuberant life.

“This was a neighborhood legend that was lost,” said Darryl Stallings, manager of the Bedford-Stuyvesant business. “Everybody loved him. This is just pitiful.”

Stallings and others from the shop found a bleeding Burke face down on the sidewalk after the mayhem Wednesday afternoon.

“We heard three shots. Pow! Pow! Pow!” Stallings said. “We called 911 and kept telling Andy to hold on.”

Burke, struck in the neck by a wayward bullet, died by the time he arrived at Interfaith Medical Center.

“My father was a good man,” said Stephen Kennedy, Burke’s only child. “He just came to the barber shop to hang out. That’s what he liked to do.”

Thekillers were capturedon a security tape as they appeared from behind parked cars, opened fire and then bolted down Marcus Garvey Blvd. around5:30 p.m. Their target ran out the rear door of the barbershop, hopped a fence and never looked back, eyewitnesses said.

Burke was a familiar figure in two Brooklyn neighborhoods: his old stomping grounds in Bed-Stuy and his new home in an East New York senior housing complex.

“Mr. Burke didn’t have a bad bone in his body,” said former building superintendent Everett Groves, 65, who met him after his move. “Genuinely a loving person.Areal nice guy.”

Although he had a new address, the former traffic agent remained loyal to his old friends and haunts.

“Andy was the neighborhood archive,” said Stallings, 43, who was a toddler when Burke came in for his first haircut at Fest’s.“He was a great storyteller.”

In the minutes before his death, Burke was talking about the trolley cars that once ran through Brooklyn when he decided to step outside and grab some fresh air.

The two shooters were chasing a third man down the street when their target bolted into the barbershop — and they unleashed a flurry of bullets into its doorway.

A pair of bullet holes remained yesterday in the front window of the shop, where four prayer candles burned.

Nearby was a sign reading, “We love you, Andy, may you rest in peace.”

But Stallings said peace would not come until the killers were in custody. “Whoever did this,” he said, “better turn themselves in before this neighborhood gets ahold of them.”

With Rocco Parascandola and Joe Kemp