Children remember slain elementary school custodian

((ABC7))

December 3, 2009 7:51:40 PM PST
Think back to when you were a kid. There is a good chance there was a custodian at school who everyone knew. There certainly was at Dublin Elementary.

The children he saw everyday are devastated by his murder -- shot dead in front of his daughter after buying her an ice cream. They had a gathering to remember him and his mother and father were there.

The kids called him Mr. Tom. He was the head custodian at Dublin Elementary School and so much more.

"It's these children that just love him, love him," said Thomas Cunningham's mother Retta Cunningham.

Now that same school where Tom Cunningham worked and mentored students is where family and friends gathered to mourn him.

Their memories of his constant high-fives hang on posters made by the children who miss him so much.

"They're actually dealing with it better than the parents. The kids, they miss him and the older kids, fourth grade, fifth grade, they miss him more," said PTA Co-President Patti Luba.

Cunningham was shot and killed in his Hayward neighborhood last week on a walk home from buying ice cream with his 13-year-old daughter.

Police say it's all because his German shepherd puppy sniffed at a man they passed on the street. Words were exchanged and the man pulled out a gun and shot Cunningham right in front of his daughter.

"The love that we're receiving from people, we didn't know, just keep this going please for us, until we catch the guy that did it," said Thomas Cunningham's father Jim Cunningham

Police are still searching for clues and looking into the possibility that the killer may live nearby.

Investigators have also handed out a sketch of the suspect -- a drawing based on a description given by witnesses, and reportedly, Cunningham's daughter.

This case has sparked so much outrage. The reward has grown from $1,000 up to $27,000 thanks to donations made over the past few days. Anyone with information on the case is asked to call the Hayward Police Department.


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