The heartbroken mom of a 20-year-old Queens smoke-shop worker gunned down during 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’s still in shock over the senseless shooting death of her son, Daruys, on Saturday night — the latest violent attack at a Big Apple smoke shop.
“I had no idea this was going on,” the grieving mom said. “I had no idea they were killing people who worked in smoke shops. If I knew, there’s no way I would have let him work there.”
Authorities said smoke shops have become frequent targets of armed robbers because they operate as cash businesses and many also peddle pot — which one cop called “a two-for-one” for crooks seeking both.
Daryus Clarke was working at the Plug Smoke Shop on Jamaica Avenue shortly after noon when three suspects ran in and robbed the store, fatally shooting the young clerk before fleeing. Tubes containing CDB, a chemical in marijuana, could be seen scattered outside the shop, possibly left behind by the robbers.
Daryus was rushed to Jamaica Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
“I am in shock,” said Kiesha, a mother of four. “I can’t even think right now. Yesterday, [Daryus] just went to do his regular shift. He wasn’t no gangbanger. He didn’t have no issues with anyone.
“Daryus is a very jovial, very happy boy,” she said. “He enjoyed playing his video games the most, and he loved his music. He was an aspiring rapper. He loved spending time with his father and me and his two brothers and his sister.
“He wanted to go back to school,” she said, sobbing.
Keisha said Daryus started working at Plug Smoke Shop in the fall when it opened.
“You hear about these things on the news, but it would never occur to you that it would happen to you or to someone you love,” the mom said.
“Yesterday should have been a happy day. I went back to college, and yesterday I was inducted into an Honor Society, the National Society of Leadership and Success, and I was so happy,” said the mom, who takes online business courses with the University of Phoenix.
“And then now I’m in shock.
“This was a senseless shooting especially over something as small as $150,” she said, although cops have not revealed what was taken in the heist.
“My child didn’t deserve to lose his life over $150, and I think the mayor really needs to pay attention to that. Whether the smoke shop was legal or illegal, you know, these places still need to have security. These are people’s lives that are being put at danger. Every day, no matter where they’re working.”
Police said the suspects, who fled in a white Toyota, remain on the loose.
Last month a man was shot and mortally wounded at a Harlem smoke shop, with dramatic surveillance video showing the victim stumbling across the street before collapsing.
The NYPD has responded to such crimes by ordering precincts in the five boroughs to make note of smoke shops on their turf and giving them “special attention.”