Friday, August 20, 2010
Clerk at kosher liquor store in Brooklyn gunned down trying to protect girlfriend during robbery
A beloved Brooklyn wine store clerk was gunned down Thursday night when he tried to protect his girlfriend, who was being robbed of her jewelry at gunpoint, police and witnesses said.
Yoseph Robinson, 34, took slugs in the chest and arm and died behind the counter of MB Vineyards, a kosher liquor store in Midwood, police said.
"The girl came running out screaming, and I saw him on the floor. She said, 'They shot Yoseph!' said a witness who identified himself as Daniel. "She was with him as he was dying. ... He told her, 'Tell my daughter I love her.'"
A holdup man entered the Nostrand Ave. store about 9:30 p.m. and went after the young woman - identified by friends as Lahava - but were confronted by Robinson, police said.
Friends said Lahava, who was helping Robinson write a book, told them she was joking around and laughing with him when the thug demanded her bling.
Robinson yelled, "Leave her alone" and approached the man. A struggle broke out, and he was shot, said Daniel, recounting Lahava's harrowing tale.
"Yoseph saved me," a badly shaken and weeping Lahava told friends outside the store.
The owner of an adjoining shop said, "I heard screaming, yelling and then the shots."
Robinson was working late because the store remains open till 11 p.m. on Thursdays, the day before the Sabbath. It usually closes at 9:30 p.m., friends said.
Samuel Kauffman, 43, wasn't suprised at Robinson's heroics.
"He would always tell people to be morally strong. He was a role model to all the kids in the neighborhood. He was very spirtual. He inspired all of us."
The bandit fled the shop on foot, and it was unclear if he made off with the jewelry, police said.
More than 50 people from the surrounding Jewish community quickly gathered at the store to mourn Robinson, a popular figure in the neighborhood who had come to the U.S. from Jamaica and recently converted to Judaism.
Robinson, who took lyrics from the Torah and turned them into reggae songs, came to Brooklyn a few years ago after a drug problem short-circuited his music career in Los Angeles.
Robinson wore traditional Orthodox garb in the store and enjoyed telling customers about his "spiritual transformation from drug user and party guy to religious Jew and the book he was writing about the experience," a friend said.
"He was a kind and generous man who talked to all of us. He gave us so much. You had to stop at the store just to hear his stories. He was truly an amazing man," said Tzvi Freund, 25.