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Family devastated after innocent bystander, 29, senselessly killed in NYC bodega robbery on Easter Sunday

The innocent bystander felled by a robber’s stray bullet in a Bronx bodega on Easter Sunday could “make every moment a joyful moment,” his heartbroken family said — as they condemned the rampant Big Apple violence that took his life.

“This random, senseless violence has become the norm but it has to stop,” Anthony Barnes, 59, said of his slain 29-year-old nephew, Stefon Barnes. “People dying just because they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time is becoming a regular thing in New York.

“Honestly, I don’t know what to make of Stefon’s death because it’s becoming such a norm, right?” he said. “Too many innocent bystanders are being killed. There are too many random, senseless killings. Too many innocent people are dying.

Stefon Barnes, 29, was inside Gourmet Deli on East Tremont Avenue in the Bronx on Easter Sunday when an armed robber’s stray bullet struck him in the right thigh. The Barnes Family
Stefon Barnes, 29, was inside Gourmet Deli on East Tremont Avenue in the Bronx on Easter Sunday when an armed robber’s stray bullet struck him in the right thigh. The Barnes Family
A makeshift memorial for slain bystander Stefon Barnes popped up outside the Bronx bodega where he was killed. LP Media
A makeshift memorial for slain bystander Stefon Barnes popped up outside the Bronx bodega where he was killed. LP Media

“He was young,” he said of his nephew. “He didn’t get a chance to really live his life,”

Stefon Barnes was at Gourmet Deli on East Tremont Avenue around 4:20 a.m. Sunday when an armed robber stormed in and tried to mug another shopper.

The gun went off during a struggle with the intended victim, with the slug striking Barnes in the right thigh.

He was rushed to St. Barnabas Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, police said.

Police have not collared the gunman, who fled the scene after the shooting.

“He was fun-loving and he was a people person. He loved people,” the victim’s aunt, Teresa Barnes, 58, said Wednesday. “He was no stranger, everybody was a friend to Steffy.

“He gave everybody the benefit of the doubt, he thought everybody was a good person. He saw the best in people,” she added “He was funny. He liked music, dancing and singing. He meant the world to us.”

Stefon Barnes grew up in Greenville, North Carolina, where he lived with his mother before moving to New York City to live with his father in Harlem as a teenager, his family said.

They said he had held down jobs as a store clerk, a truck driver and a UPS delivery driver. His senseless slaying comes on the heels of another family tragedy — his great-aunt died one week earlier.

Police say an armed robber tried to mug a patron at Gourmet Deli in the Bronx on Easter Sunday — but a stray bullet killed an innocent bystander identified as 29-year-old Stefon Barnes. Google Maps
Police say an armed robber tried to mug a patron at Gourmet Deli in the Bronx on Easter Sunday — but a stray bullet killed an innocent bystander identified as 29-year-old Stefon Barnes. Google Maps
Police released surveillance photos of the alleged gunman who killed 29-year-old Stefon Barnes inside a Bronx bodega on Easter Sunday. DCPI
Police released surveillance photos of the alleged gunman who killed 29-year-old Stefon Barnes inside a Bronx bodega on Easter Sunday. DCPI

“The impact of two deaths has been hard on our family,” Teresa Barnes said.

Like her grieving brother, Tersea Barnes, who lives in North Carolina, bemoaned the violence that has claimed too many lives in the streets of the five boroughs in recent years.

“New York is getting bad, honestly. It’s not a safe place to be, young or old,” she said. “I wouldn’t move back here. I’m trying to get my parents and I want all my family out.

“It was senseless,” she said of her nephew’s death. “It wasn’t like he was doing anything illegal, he was just an innocent bystander. You can try to stay out of trouble, but you can still be a victim of circumstance.”