EAST FLATBUSH — A Brooklyn teen who loved basketball and helped elderly neighbors carry their groceries was shot to death after buying pizza with friends late Friday night, just steps from his home in East Flatbush, officials said.
Bryan Antoine, 19, was found with a gunshot wound to his back outside a deli at 830 Clarkson Ave., near East 51st Street, just before 11 p.m., cops said.
He was rushed to Kings County Hospital, where he died.
Sources said that the victim had just bought some pizza with friends at Domino's when he went across the street to the deli to buy soda.
As he waited outside for his friends, a gunman came up and shot him in the back and fled.
"He shouldn't have been taken like this," said Gilbert Charles, 21, Antoine's friend. "It wasn't his time. He was a good kid."
The motive for the shooting was unclear, sources told DNAinfo.com New York. There did not appear to have been an argument before the shooting and nothing appears to have been taken — leaving Antoine's loved ones searching for answers.
"You can't really say what happened because I don't know," said Alester Hassan, 43, Antoine's step-father, who said he was "feeling numb" after the shooting.
He and Antoine's mother were at home when they learned of the shooting.
"The neighbors came to the door...and informed us," he continued. "We went there [to the scene], and he was in the ambulance trying to recover.
"I guess he didn't make it."
Laura Francis, 64, who said she has lived in Antoine's building for 13 years, described him as a "very mannerly, very respectable" young man who "never used any obscene language."
"When I was coming up the stairs with the bags he would help me because I have bad knees," she said. "I was so shocked when I heard this this morning, so sad.... The parents came down and told me this morning. [Antoine's mother] told me, 'My son got shot.'"
Charles had just returned from a two-week trip to Upstate New York when he heard that his friend had been killed. The pair frequently played basketball together at Winthrop Beacon Community Center, he said.
"I was just playing basketball with him two weeks ago. I went away I came back and heard this news — I never even got to see him when I came back," he said. "He never ran with bad crews. In this 'hood, he's known for being a basketball player."
It's precisely for that reason, Charles continued, that he wants Antoine "to be remembered as a basketball player. It shouldn't have been his time."
No description of the suspect was immediately available and no arrests were made.