BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CBS 2/1010 WINS/AP) — A troubled New York man beat a life of drugs and found religion, only to die violently.
For the woman who was there when her boyfriend was gunned down trying to save her life, it’s just shattering, reports CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez.
Lahavah Wallace said her boyfriend lost his life because a thief wanted her necklace. Her boyfriend, Yoseph Robinson, intervened.
“He would have done that for anybody, because that’s who Yoseph was,” Wallace said.
Amateur video shows a distraught Wallace, wearing a pink shirt, right after the shooting took place.
Robinson, 34, was a Jamaican-born convert to Judaism. He was working in a Nostrand Avenue wine store at around 9:30 p.m. when he was killed.
Many customers were shocked to hear to the tragic news and described Robinson as an impressive man.
“Oh I’m very upset…it broke my heart to know that [the] young guy got killed like that,” one customer told 1010 WINS’ Al Jones.
“All I heard was good things about the guy, nothing bad,” another man said.
Robinson’s career had been colorful. Once a Los Angeles rap recording executive who fell into a life of drugs, he found salvation in religion.
Residents said Robinson had recently converted to Judaism and enjoyed telling customers at the kosher liquor store about his spiritual journey.
He chronicled his story on his own Web site, where he spoke of a troubled past that led him to his newfound faith.
“I came from the craziest past, and with due diligence, you guys will see and understand where I am coming from,” he said on a YouTube video.
“We really loved him,” said Rabbi Yossi Glieberman of K’hal Zichron Mordechai Synagogue. “He came in here, moved in, got a job, worked hard.”
According to Rabbi Gleiberman, Robinson used to say he was pretty sure the first time he walked into a synagogue in his Flatbush neighborhood, people were probably thinking, “Who is this guy?” But friends say it did not take long for the black man of Jamaican descent to open their minds and shatter their preconceived notions.
“He seemed very calm, but authoritative…like one of those people you would just want to confide in and talk to,” said customer Gail Levy. “He definitely will be missed.”
Seungho Choe worked at a dry cleaner next door to the wine store, and saw Robinson every day. Choe said the reality of his friend’s death has yet to set in.
“He’s a nice guy, it’s too bad,” Choe said. “He working hard, he nice to everybody, everybody like him.”
More than 100 people from the Orthodox and Hasidic neighborhood gathered outside the liquor store to pay their respects.
On Thursday night, a lone gunman entered the wine store, demanding that Wallace turn over her jewelry, and Robinson tried to intercede.
“He pulled it back, and then he pointed it back at me, and Yoseph grabbed his arm again,” Wallace said.
Robinson, a man who was a minority within a minority, was shot multiple times in the chest and arm.
“Everybody loved him,” Rabbi Glieberman said. “You go around, people from all over the neighborhood, there were only good words to be said about him.”
The masked gunman left death in his wake, and the victim’s girlfriend wants justice.
“I want him caught. Everybody wants him caught,” Wallace said.
Police said they’re looking for a light-skinned man between 5-foot-6 and 5-8 and approximately 160 pounds. The suspect was last seen wearing a tan hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans, white sneakers and a tan mask.
Police said the investigation is ongoing and a $12,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction has been offered.
Robinson’s funeral is scheduled for Monday in Brooklyn, with the burial near his parents’ home in Jamaica.