Why did I let him work there?

The heartbroken mother of a 20-year-old Queens smoking employee who was gunned down in a botched robbery says she didn’t know his job made him a target for armed thugs.

Kiesha Clarke, 41, told the Post on Sunday that she is still in shock at the senseless death of her son Daruys on Saturday night – the latest violent attack on a Big Apple smoke shop.

“I had no idea this was happening,” the grieving mother said. “I had no idea they were killing people who work in tobacconists. If I had known that, there is no way I would have let him work there.”

Authorities said smoking shops have become frequent targets for armed robbers because they operate as cash shops and many also sell pot – which one police officer described as a “two for one” for crooks looking to do both.

Daryus Clarke was working at the Plug Smoke Shop on Jamaica Avenue just after noon when three suspects burst in and robbed the shop and fatally shot the young clerk before fleeing. Tubes of CDB, a chemical in marijuana, were seen strewn outside the store, possibly left by the robbers.

Police stand outside the Plug Smoke Shop on Jamaica Avenue investigating a fatal robbery.
Daryus Clarke, 20, was working at The Plug smoke shop on Jamaica Avenue in Queens around noon on Saturday when he was shot in the chest and killed during a robbery.
Kevin C Downs for NY Post

Daryus was taken to Jamaica Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

“I’m in shock,” said Kiesha, a mother of four. “I can’t even think now. Yesterday, [Daryus] was just leaving for his regular shift. He wasn’t a gang banger. He had no problems with anyone.

“Daryus is a very cheerful, very happy boy,” she said. “His favorite was playing his video games and he loved his music. He was an aspiring rapper. He loved spending time with his father and me and his two brothers and sister.

“He wanted to go back to school,” she said, sobbing.

Keisha said Daryus started working at the Plug Smoke Shop when it opened in the fall.

“You hear about these things on the news, but it would never occur to you that it would happen to you or someone you love,” the mother said.

Victim Darius Clark, 20, is pictured here.
Darius Clark was hoping to get back to school, his ailing mother told the Post.

“Yesterday should have been a happy day. I went back to college and was accepted into an honor society yesterday, the National Society of Leadership and Success, and I was so happy,” said the mom, who takes online business courses at the University of Phoenix.

“And now I’m in shock.

“It was a pointless shooting, especially for something as small as $150,” she said, though police didn’t say what was stolen in the robbery.

“My kid didn’t deserve to lose their life over $150 and I think the mayor really needs to look at that. Whether the smoke shop was legal or illegal, you know, these places still need to be guarded. These are human lives at stake. Every day, no matter where they work.”

Police said the suspects, who fled in a white Toyota, remain at large.

Last month a man was shot and mortally wounded in a Harlem smokehouse, with dramatic surveillance video showing the victim stumbling across the street before collapsing.

The NYPD has responded to such crimes by directing counties in the five boroughs to make a note of smoking shops on their territory and to give them “special attention.”

https://nypost.com/2023/03/19/mom-of-nyc-smoke-shop-vic-why-did-i-let-him-work-there/ Why did I let him work there?


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