Fatal shooting outside Brooklyn smoke shop may have been strange case of mistaken identity: cops

A man recently killed outside a Brooklyn smoke shop was a friend of the shooter — who apparently didn’t recognize the victim after a strange incident in the store — police said Tuesday.

Desmond Francis, 36, was fatally shot after entering the store near the corner of Ralph and Sutter Aves. in Brownsville about 10:25 a.m. on Monday, according to cops.

Video shows him entering the shop and snatching two plastic bags out of the killer’s hands “in a playful manner,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said in a Tuesday news briefing.

Apparently believing he’d been robbed, the attacker followed Francis outside, where the victim was seen laughing, then shot him once in the chest with a pistol, the chief added.

That’s when the killer learned his apparent mistake.

The “shooter kind of seems to realize, ‘I just shot my friend,’ and immediately calls 911,” Kenny said. “On 911, we can hear, ‘I didn’t know it was you. I’m really, really sorry.’ ”

Medics rushed Francis to Brookdale University Hospital, but he could not be saved. After fleeing the scene, the killer remained at large Tuesday.

The victim was killed just a few blocks from where he lived with his mother, according to his aunt Vivian Philips.

“It broke my sister’s heart,” Philips, 65, said of the victim’s mother. “We’re taking this kind of hard right now.”

Francis had dreams of starting his own trucking company, recently buying two trucks that he was working to get street-legal.

“He was very outgoing,” Philips said. “He was very ambitious. That was his thing. He loved to work.”

Francis had a 4-year-old daughter, whom Philips described as Francis’ motivation.

“It was all for her,” she said. “He loves his daughter.”

On Monday morning, the shooter remained with Francis for a few minutes after shooting him, “consoling him and trying to comfort him,” Kenny said. Then he likely heard the sirens.

The shooter “just simply walks off and leaves his friend there to die,” the chief said.