The basement of a Cambria Heights barber shop allegedly used for illegal gambling was the scene of an early morning murder last Thursday when one of the patrons was fatally shot during a robbery after he was slow to disrobe and get on the ground, police said.
Youius Lafalouse, 52, died on the operating table at 4:24 a.m. at North Shore University Hospital two hours after he was shot once in the stomach and once in the leg by one of the four unidentified gunmen, who robbed 10 patrons at the social club under La Belle Creole barber shop at 227-09 Linden Blvd., said Sgt. Brian Burke, a Police Department spokesman.
He said the gunmen burst into the Haitian club around 2:30 a.m. when one of the patrons decided to leave the shop. Burke said when the suspected gambler opened the shop's door, the four gunmen pushed their way into the unlicensed gambling club.
Once inside the club the gunmen demanded that all the patrons remove their clothes and hit the floor, the NYPD's Burke said.
When the robbers turned to Lafalouse, of 185-09 Henderson St. in Hollis, he refused to follow their orders and one of the four men pulled out a gun and shot him in the stomach and leg, Burke said.
Police said the men robbed about 10 people before they reached Lafalouse and fled after the shooting. Police said there had been no arrests and the shooting at the alleged gambling house was still under investigation.
The barber shop, in the heart of Cambria Heights shopping district on Linden Blvd., is on the same street as a medical center, a tailor, hair dresser, day-care center and a community center.
Sherry Hunter, a spokeswoman for the Queens district attorney's office, said the investigation into the shooting and alleged gambling activities was ongoing.
"The shop opened about a month ago," said Yves Pierre, the owner of the International Barber Shop, which is right across the street from the Belle Creole. "I saw a few people go in. I had no idea gambling was going on in the place because I never went inside."
A woman from the area who refused to give her name said the place had just opened and she had seen people coming and going throughout the day and night. She said she usually heads for home around 9 p.m. and the place was always open.
The owner of a neighborhood business who did not want to give her name because she feared possible repercussions said La Belle Creole had never caused a problem and the barbers were nice people.
She said places like the barber shop are set up throughout the community as fronts so that people can run gambling or drugs out of the store. She said they need more police protection because "you never know who is coming into the neighborhood."
Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.