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Police: Smoke shop employee killed during armed robbery in Queens

Surveillance video shows suspects in deadly Queens smoke shop shooting
Surveillance video shows suspects in deadly Queens smoke shop shooting 02:02

NEW YORK -- Police are investigating a deadly shooting at a smoke shop in Queens.

It happened around noon Saturday at the Plug Smoke Shop on the corner of Jamaica Avenue and 110th Street in Richmond Hill.

In surveillance video, gunshots are heard as three people are seen running out of the shop. Police say they robbed the store and got away in a white Toyota Camry. Officers say the victim, who was shot in the chest, was 20-year-old employee Daryus Clarke.

Customer Delma walked into the shop where she says police were trying to revive him.

"It was empty. It was empty. It was two people. It was just the cops in there pumping his heart ... He was on the ground in the back," she said.

Clarke was taken to Jamaica Medical Center, where he died.

An employee at a nearby store, who didn't want to be identified, says Clarke was a familiar face he'd see in the mornings.

"All I heard was like six gunshots, and then next thing you know it, I just see three people running, and the person in the smoke shop is dead," he said.

He tells us the Plug Smoke Shop has only been open since the fall.

What's normally a peaceful neighborhood, as he describes, has changed recently.

"Ever since these smoke shops... it's been crazy because a lot of smoke shops get robbed ... Different people in from the neighborhood that I've never seen before," he said.

These smoke shops across the city seem to be the target for recent robberies and shootings. Just a couple days ago, another smoke shop a block away was robbed. Neighbors are noticing more of these stores appear in their neighborhoods.

"We talk about it often, actually, that every other block there's another one. They're coming from... I don't even know where, every other block, there's a new one," one Queens resident said.

Last month, a man police identified as 42-year-old Alfred Johnson was shot and killed inside Level Up smoke shop on 125th Street in Harlem.

It has many questioning what needs to be done to keep store employees safe.

"There was no need. Why would you shoot him?" Delma said.

Police haven't made any arrests in Saturday's shooting. Police say the suspects got away with $100 in cash and $50 worth of merchandise.

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