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Public Memorial For Slain D.C. Principal

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By Elliot Francis

Family, friends, and former students of slain principal Brian Betts gathered in Manassas to honor his life and work.

To get an idea of how much people cared for Betts, all you'd have to do is look around the corner of this funeral home and see the line of mourners stretched around the corner, waiting to say goodbye. Pete Cahill, a principal at D.C.'s Woodrow Wilson High and a personal friend of Betts says he's not surprised.

"Yeah I expected this. Brian was loved by a lot of people. He just made an impression on a lot of young peoples' lives," says Cahill.

Some of the young people here are from Shaw Middle School, where Betts was principal. Others are from schools where Betts once taught and coached like Neelsville Middle School in Germantown, Maryland.

Samantha Dean was a student at Neelsville when Betts taught there. She wanted to talk, but couldn't. Nanette Dean is Samantha's mom.

"She loved him, she loved him a lot. He meant a lot of things to a lot of people, and a lot of kids," says Dean.

1,000, perhaps 15,000 people passed through this funeral home. Very young, very old, all different in shape and style, but uniform in their thoughts about a principal who many say, cared about kids. Edie Pratt was a teacher at Neelsville.

"He was the most amazing educator, and he just offered so much to everybody, mostly the children. Every child loved him. He was the most wonderful friend in the world and we just can't believe hes gone, it's not fair," says Pratt.

A private funeral service and burial are planned for Thursday.


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