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‘We cannot become indifferent:’ Bath Beach mourns the loss of Dereck Chen after 19-year-old shot in parking lot

Assemblyman William Colton holds vigil for 19 year-old Dereck Chen.
Assemblyman William Colton held a vigil for 19 year-old Dereck Chen who was shot and killed in an Aug. 4 shooting in Bath Beach.
Arthur de Gaeta

The Bath Beach community mourned the loss of 19-year old Dereck Chen at a candlelit vigil after the teen was killed in an incident local Assemblyman William Colton said has deeply affected the neighborhood.

According to the New York City Police Department, Chen was shot and killed in the parking lot of a BJ’s Wholesale Club on Shore Parkway on August 4. Friends and community leaders joined the Chen’s family at an Aug. 11 vigil to remember Chen and call for an end to the violence that took his life.

The community mourns the loss of young Dereck Chen
The community attended a vigil to mourn the loss of young Dereck Chen, who was shot and killed on Aug. 4. While shootings in the neighborhood are uncommon, local Assemblymember William Colton said it is important to act immediately to ensure they do not become more prevalent. Arthur de Gaeta

“We cannot become indifferent to tragedies like this. It can’t just become part of our ordinary life where nobody pays attention,” Colton told Brooklyn Paper after the vigil. “We had to make it clear, and the community leaders from every part of the neighborhood made it clear that this is not acceptable and we’re going to do all we can to make sure more of these [incidents] don’t happen.”

While the assemblymember said shooting incidents don’t frequently happen in the area, locals say things have to change as “even one is too many.”

“When someone commits a horrific crime of killing somebody, there has to be consequences because if we get to the point where people feel there are no consequences when they commit these crimes then we’re going to have big, big trouble,” Colton said. 

officers on scene of shooting of dereck chen
Officers quickly arrested 18-year-old Edino Tzul after the shooting, according to police. Tzul is being charged with murder, robbery, and criminal possession of a firearm. File photo by Lloyd Mitchell

According to an NYPD spokesperson, on Thursday, August 4 at around 10:15 p.m., police responded to a 911 call of a person shot within the garage area of the BJ’s store. When the officers arrived at the scene, they found Chen with gunshot wounds to the face and shoulders. First responders rushed the teen to NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn, where he was pronounced dead. 

Officers from the 62nd Precinct quickly apprehended a suspect, 18-year-old Edino Tzul, who is being charged with murder, robbery, criminal use of a firearm, and criminal possession of a firearm, according to an NYPD spox. The police investigation into the shooting is ongoing. Tzul allegedly robbed a 17-year-old at gunpoint at the scene of the shooting, according to CBS News.

Colton commended the officers for their quick response and arrest of the alleged criminal, and said the law enforcement officers will be watching closely to make sure justice is properly displayed. 

“A killing like this, a shooting, in any neighborhood is unacceptable and we have to do all we can to make sure that it stops,” he said.  

girl at vigil for dereck chen
Dereck Chen, who was 19 when he was shot and killed, was a student at Kingsboro Community College and worked at a local grocery store, according to friends and family. The teen will be rememberedArthur de Gaeta

Friends and family of the deceased said Chen, a student at Kingsboro Community College who worked at the local supermarket to support his family and pay for his education, will be remembered for his kindness and dedication towards others.

“This was a young man who his friends say was always very kind hearted, very strong and always trying to make people feel good, make people feel happy and unfortunately his life was taken away much too soon,” Colton said.

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