EAST WILLIAMSBURG — A metal worker was killed during his second day on the job when he confronted three would-be car thieves who then opened fire, hitting him, a colleague and a teen girl headed to school, officials and witnesses said.
The 53-year-old murder victim — who sources identified as Michael Matusiak — was working near Knickerbocker Avenue and Grattan Street about 7:50 a.m. when he saw the trio prying open the doors of a parked Toyota minivan that belonged to a co-worker, NYPD officials said.
"They realized we were watching them and they took off. They went down Grattan and turned up Knickerbocker," said Derrick Robinson, 57, who also works at the metal shop.
Matusiak and Robinson, a father of two, followed the trio.
"We approached them and Mike said, 'What are you trying to do, break into peoples' cars?’ As Mike said that, the guy pulled out the gun and started shooting," Robinson told DNAinfo New York.
The shooter unloaded about five shots, hitting Matusiak in the torso, Robinson in the torso and ear along with a 13-year-old who was passing by the area, officials said.
Matusiak was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said.
"The guy was on the ground. He was between the cars, face down. He was wearing a sweater. He wasn't moving. He looked dead," said Gabriela Simon, 26.
Robinson was dazed after the shooting, he said.
"It hit me on my right side. Then another hit my right ear. That thing burned," Robinson said.
Someone was saying, "Mike got shot. He didn't make it."
Eventually medical crews brought Robinson and the 13-year-old girl, whose left hip was grazed, to Elmhurst Hospital, to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries, officials said.
Robinson was saddened by Matusiak's death, but grateful that his injuries weren't more serious, he said.
"I'm good so far. I’m blessed. Not lucky. I’m blessed. God saved me,” Robinson said.
The girl's mother visited her in the hospital, NYPD officials said.
"She's doing fine," said NYPD's Chief of Detectives, Robert Boyce.
The car thieves, two of whom wore sweatpants and a third wore jeans, fled the scene and were not immediately arrested, police said.
"Right now, we believe the perpetrators ran down the street. We don't know where, right now," Boyce said.
Matusiak is survived by his fiancée, Ivonne Carrasquillo, and two daughters from a previous relationship.
"I'm going to be really, really sorry that I'm not gonna have him in my life," said Carrasquillo, who was set to marry Matusiak in December next year.
"We've been together for 12 years. It's really heartbreaking to know somebody would shoot him like that," Carrasquillo told DNAinfo.
Carrasquillo said she had sent her fiancé a text message in the morning, but did not get an answer back. After seeing friends posting on Facebook about his death, Carraquillo tried reaching him again.
"I text him and I said, baby, please tell me you're okay, and nobody answered, so then I knew it was true."
Coworkers, who said Matusiak started working at the metal business on Monday after losing a job at a nearby car shop, were shocked by what happened.
"He was a good person who never had issues with anybody," Robinson said.
Matusiak's new boss said that though he was new, he seemed eager to do work even if it was dangerous and showed potential.
"He was a nice guy. He stuck by me. He said, 'Yo, give me something to do,'" said Noel Arroyo, 56, a metal shop's foreman.