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Witnesses: Man Suspected Of Shoplifting Dies After Scuffle With Store Employees

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A 51-year-old man died Saturday morning following an incident at a Stop and Shop in Brooklyn.

Witnesses told CBS2's Lisa Rozner the man came into the store on Flatbush Avenue around 7:30 a.m. and was suspected of shoplifting. Customers said one minute, store employees were sitting on him; the next, first responders were rushing in to administer CPR.

Police said when officers arrived, they found the man lying on the floor unconscious and unresponsive.

"The guy was coming out with some stuff, and they all rushed him, and he dropped the stuff, and he said to them, 'You have the stuff, let me go.' And the lady manager was like, 'you're not effing going anywhere,'" said one shopper who asked to remain anonymous. "They were tussling with him. All the cookies dropped, all the stuff dropped, and they finally got him to the ground and they was all three of them sitting on top of him... Two of the managers and a store worker."

"He was just saying, 'let me go, let me go, let me go.' But then when he was on the ground, he said that he couldn't breathe and he had a heart problem," she added.

"I saw this guy laying on the floor, and there was a man over him – sitting over him," said another witness, adding it was the manager and "a heavy girl."

Another customer told Rozner a female bystander stepped in and offered to pay.

"She asked, 'What's going on? What happened? He stole something?' He's like, 'I didn't do nothing.' And she pulled out her money to pay for whatever they said he stole, but they wouldn't take her money. So they wrestled him and he didn't want – he wasn't trying to be held, he was trying to get out," said Jacene McDonald.

The FDNY said the man went into cardiac arrest. He was rushed to Kings County hospital where he died just before 8 a.m.

"It's like, whatever he was stealing – couple dollars was worth his life?" said McDonald.

"It's sad, that's it," another woman added.

Stop and Shop released a statement, saying, "There was an incident at our Stop & Shop Flatbush Avenue store this morning involving a suspected shoplifter. New York City Police officers were immediately called to the store. We are working closely with the New York City Police Department to help them determine the facts and to provide any information we have to assist in their investigation."

Police sources told CBS2 the man appeared to be homeless. His cause of death is under investigation.

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