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A 19-year-old Brooklyn man was fatally shot during an attempted theft of his backpack in the parking lot of BJ’s in Bath Beach.
The victim and suspect entered an elevator on the third floor of the Shore Parkway parking lot just before 10:15 p.m. Thursday.
The 18-year-old suspect attempted to steal the victim’s backpack in a struggle that extended to the first floor of the parking lot.
“All I heard was, ‘Get out of my bag!'” said store clerk Rodney Tele. “He was trying to hold on to the guy’s report, or whatever he had on him, and then the shots rang out.”
The suspect opened fire, striking 19-year-old Dereck Chen in the face and shoulder.
The gunman fled on foot, but as he was leaving the parking lot, he ran into responding police officers.
The gun was recovered near the scene of the shooting. Charges against the suspect are pending.
Chen was pronounced dead at NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn.
Detectives believe he was the victim of a random robbery attempt, there is no indication he knew the suspect.
Chen’s family didn’t say much to Eyewitness News, only that they needed time to process what had happened.
“Why? There’s no reason for that to happen,” said Dianne Defontes, area resident and BJ member. “People are so desperate they have to steal another teenager’s backpack. It’s ridiculous.”