A cheerful wave from Daniel Borowy greeted 14-year-old Katherine Kraft on Monday morning, easing the freshman's nerves on her first day at Perry Hall High School.
"It was adorable," Kraft said. "I didn't think anyone would wave or anything. It was nice."
Within hours Borowy would be critically injured, shot in the back in the school cafeteria by another student. That Borowy was the victim made the violence all the more troubling for his peers.
Borowy, a 17-year-old special education student at Perry Hall, is well-known for welcoming waves, high-fives and other friendly interactions, classmates said. He remained in critical condition Thursday morning at Maryland Shock Trauma Center after the shooting that led to mayhem, lockdown and then early dismissal at the Baltimore County school on the first day of classes.
Family friends and fellow students described Borowy as passionate about everything from soccer to Lady Gaga and quick to make friends at the school. Classmates rallied behind Borowy on Tuesday, wearing T-shirts and posting signs outside the school that read "Pray for Daniel," gathering at an early-morning vigil around the school's flagpole and sharing via social media a plea to get Lady Gaga to visit him.
Parents of local special needs students also prayed for and reached out to the Borowy family, offering to prepare meals. Tricia Theis Rogalski, former co-president of the Chesapeake Down Syndrome Parent Group, said as a mother of a 5-year-old daughter with Down syndrome, she feels "a certain extra concern and connection" to Daniel and his parents, who she said have been members of the organization for years.
Rogalski said in an email that it is "heartbreaking" Daniel experienced violence in a place where he likely worked hard to assimilate with other students and where his parents likely labored to ensure his needs were met.
Police said Borowy wasn't targeted by the alleged shooter, 15-year-old Robert Wayne Gladden, Jr., who was charged on Tuesday as an adult with attempted murder and assault.
Borowy's family, in a statement released Tuesday, thanked police and emergency officials for their help.
"We would like to ask the public, our family and friends to respect our privacy at this time and keep Daniel in your thoughts and prayers," the statement said. Family members could not be reached to comment further.
Quintin Partlow, 16, said he thought about Borowy throughout the school day and visited Shock Trauma on Monday night but was unable to see him. He said he got an update at the hospital and was encouraged that he would recover.
"They said he's doing good," said Partlow.
Classmates said Borowy always presented a friendly face in the hallways at school. Junior Kellie Boyd got to know him when the two shared the same lunch period last year, and said that Borowy was always quick to share an "I love you" or a "Good luck" any time she wore her basketball uniform to school.
De-Andre Styron, a June graduate of the school who was back on Tuesday to collect transcripts and visit with teachers, said he remembered Borowy as a "very nice" kid who was all smiles — especially when playing soccer.
"You could tell he was always happy," Styron said.
Many were quick to shower support on Borowy and his family.
One family friend set up an online donation website to support the family Tuesday, raising nearly $1,300 from 25 donors as of Tuesday evening to help cover the cost of Borowy's medical bills. The Perry Hall Alumni Association also encouraged members to donate to the family, and directed all donations it receives through September to the Borowys.
"Whenever you see your friends or family suffer and you see such a tragedy happen in the community, you think, 'What can I do to help?'" said Trisha Paine, a close friend of Borowy's cousin and godmother, who set up the donation site. "He is just a very caring, good young man."
Students also posted on social media websites a public plea for Lady Gaga to visit Borowy. Many mornings, he playfully packs a suitcase and says he is headed to California to see the pop singer perform, Paine said on the fundraising website.
Lady Gaga had not responded on her Twitter feed as of Tuesday night.
Kim Huesman, a graduate of Perry Hall High School and a neighbor to the Borowys, said she has known him since he was an infant and called him "just the sweetest boy." Huesman said she had seen Borowy at a community yard sale a week ago and was impressed with his ability to calculate change and understand the value of money.
She was touched by the outpouring of support in the school community. "The kids are really joining together and are going to be there for each other," Huesman said.
Baltimore Sun reporters Mary Gail Hare and Ian Duncan contributed to this article.
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