He liked to be known just as Bailey, his friends said Wednesday evening at an outdoor memorial service on the University at Albany campus.
Richard Bailey, 22, a UAlbany student who was going to graduate in December, was shot in the head Monday night on South Lake Avenue near Washington Park. He died the next day.
At the service, tenor saxophonist Kevin Frison played “Danny Boy.” Then several hundred people lighted candles and listened to speeches, prayers and a gospel song as a cold wind blew through the modernist architecture of the university.
“He was the kind of guy who was there when no one else would be there,” said one friend, adding that the candles well symbolized Bailey’s brief life.
Albany Public Safety Department spokesman Detective James Miller reported no progress in tracking down the killer. He said there was a robbery and an attempted robbery in the same area within an hour of the shooting, one late Monday night and the other early Tuesday morning. The suspect in the robbery was reported to be on a BMX bike, and police had said two men on bikes were seen near the Bailey shooting at about 11:30 p.m.
But Miller said Wednesday that police have not established any connection between the homicide, the robbery and the attempted robbery. Miller also said no shell casings or murder weapon have been discovered.
Police used metal detectors Tuesday and Wednesday and dug up soil at the murder scene, said Dr. Bob Wishnoff, a psychologist with an office at 105 S. Lake Ave. Bailey was shot and fell on the sidewalk in front of that address. Candles, photographs and an empty six-pack of Milwaukee’s Best beer had been left there as a memorial. Wishnoff said Bailey’s parents were there Wednesday morning. The family is from Wantagh, Nassau County.
“This is a quiet neighborhood,” Wishnoff said in an interview at the site, and the killing was “a horrible shock.” He said that Bailey was planning to become a police officer and speculated that he may have resisted a robbery.
Charlie Muller, pastor of Victory Christian Church on Quail Street, a few blocks from the scene, had a similar theory. The robber may not have meant to kill Bailey, he said, and so ran away in panic after the shooting without taking the victim’s wallet.
Everyone had left the murder site by 6 p.m. Wednesday, but hundreds of cawing crows had gathered in the trees there. A city police car was parked down the street.
Inspector Aran Mull of the New York State University Police said this may be the first ever confirmed homicide of a student at the University at Albany. Two female students, however, Karen Wilson and Suzanne Lyall, disappeared while attending the university in the 1980s and 1990s and may be homicide victims.
Mull said the campus police force has been assisting city police both at the scene where Bailey was shot and on campus.
Victory Christian Church is offering a $10,000 reward for information on the Bailey case. Muller said $5,000 is for finding and convicting the killer and $5,000 for the gun. He said that the church will put construction of a youth center in the South End on hold to come up with the money and that he had called the University at Albany to see if it will put up additional reward funding.
Muller said he sees an annual increase in crime after the university students return in the fall.
“The city kids know some of these [university] kids are easy targets,” he said.
Meanwhile, the state comptroller’s office issued an audit report Tuesday criticizing the way state university campuses report crime statistics.
Unlike some other major campuses, the audit found that UAlbany did report all crimes to the federal government, as required by law.
But the audit put Albany on a list of 10 campuses that “did not report crime statistics properly with respect to geographic locations and/or whether the crime occurred in an academic setting or residential facility.”
Mull said that referred to a failure to specify which crimes occurred in residence halls. Also, the university did not report that it had zero hate crimes. He downplayed the significance of those findings, saying UAlbany was generally pleased with what the audit said.
Mull said that while most crimes against students happen on campus, the most serous violent crimes tend to take place off campus. Those crimes are not reported to the federal government.
Wishnoff said South Lake Avenue is the last street at the eastern edge of the Pine Hills neighborhood, where many students live. Bailey lived in eastern Pine Hills at 560 Park Ave., in a small, two-family brick row house where he was apparently headed Monday night.
East of Lake Avenue, the Park South neighborhood begins, where the city of Albany has been seeking to eradicate blight and build new housing. The city has also been working with public institutions in Pine Hills and University Heights on public safety initiatives.
Muller, who also spoke at the memorial service, mentioned in his remarks the case of Kathina Thomas, a 10-year-old girl who was shot to death in front of her West Hill home in May. At first, police appeared to have no suspects in that case, but a 15-year-old boy was arrested within two weeks and charged with the killing.
Muller challenged all of the mourners, saying: “We can do something to make this world a better place. … You can make a difference.”