Across the street from the North Philadelphia grocery where Craig Young was working when he was cut down by a stray gunshot, relatives yesterday recalled him as a hard worker who was well-liked and respected in the neighborhood.

"I'm 72 years old, and I thought I would go before my children," said a tearful Florence Young, the man's mother, as she and relatives were going to make funeral arrangements.

Young, 41, was working as a clerk in the Yasmin Food Market at 23d and Jefferson Streets when a bullet pierced a window and struck him fatally in the left side of the chest about 5:40 p.m. Thursday, police said.

At least a half-dozen shots were exchanged outside the store, police said. There were no suspects, officials said.

Sitting in a silver Chrysler outside the Philadelphia Housing Authority's Norman Blumberg Apartments, where Young and some family members lived, his mother, brother, sister and a niece looked at a growing makeshift memorial of stuffed animals and votive candles in front of the store a few yards away.

Surrounded by reporters and camera crews, Florence Young said: "I have lived here 30 years, and I have never had any problems. This should not have happened. It's sad. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Looking across Jefferson Street at the shuttered grocery, Florence Young said: "Oh, God, he was working inside that store."

Relatives said Craig Young was the second youngest of seven children. They said he had lived at Blumberg Apartments for most of his life and had worked at the store under various owners for 15 years.

"He was a nonviolent person," said Carolyn Young, his sister.

"He was a good person," she said, adding that her brother would often talk to children and teens in the neighborhood about the hazards of drugs, crime and violence. "He talked to the kids all the time."

Phil Young said he and his brother were always close.

"I've known him all my life. We've been through thick and thin," he said. "We went through a lot of things in this place as we were growing up right here. It's a tragedy what just happened."

Asked if his brother feared for his safety in the neighborhood, Phil Young said: "Everybody is concerned about their safety in this neighborhood. Nobody ever really talks about it. It's the community we live in.

"It's hard. It's just hard out here for any person who is trying to better themselves and their families."

Abdul Jalil, a former neighborhood resident visiting from Atlanta, said he was in the store buying chips hours before the shooting. Jalil said he heard the gunfire that claimed Craig Young.

"It sounded like 13 or 14 shots to me, but I hear it was 27. It was a long time before I heard a siren," Jalil said.

Carolyn Young said guns were a problem in the neighborhood. "They don't do anything about gun control," she said. "They need to stop all these kids with guns."