A beloved barber was shot to death in Queens early Tuesday after leaving a bar that’s been repeatedly targeted by armed thieves, police sources said.
Zanu Simpson, 32, was found shot in the head inside his white BMW X5 about 12:15 a.m., police said.
The car was parked outside the Breezes Island Grill on S. Conduit Ave. in Rosedale, where Simpson had spent the night and left without incident.
Police believe he was the victim of a robbery gone wrong.
Simpson’s death comes some 12 hours after he fired off a social media post with lyrics from hip hop star Meek Mill.
“N—– taking shots can’t stop me,” Simpson quoted the rapper in an Instagram caption containing emojis of a gun and two bombs. “They ain’t real enough.”
A motorist who called 911 told cops she saw a man in a charcoal gray sweatshirt leaning into the BMW’s driver side window and punching the victim.
As she zoomed past, she heard a gunshot. The woman told police she doubled back and found the driver slumped in his seat with bullet wounds, cops said.
The gunman shot Simpson three times in the head before taking off, cops said.
Investigators recovered a gun believed to be the murder weapon and a live round at the scene.
Also found were Simpson’s gold ring, glasses and some cash that the gunman had apparently taken from the victim then left behind during his harried escape.
Paramedics rushed the mortally-wounded Simpson to Jamaica Hospital but doctors couldn’t save him.
Simpson, who worked with his brother at the Strictly Skillz Barbershop in Hollis, died just before 1 a.m., sources said.
“That was like my other half,” said the victim’s brother Samuel Simpson, 35.
“Everybody says we looked alike. They always called us twins.”
Over the last month, several people have been robbed while leaving the Breezes Island Grill, police sources said.
“We’ve had three or four cases when the victim had flashed cash or jewelry at that bar and then, later in the night, someone had followed them outside and robbed them at gunpoint,” the source said.
In earlier heists, the three thieves were described as one man and two women, the source said. No arrests have been made.
The strapping, Jamaican-born Simpson, known to his friends as “Z,” was obsessed with sports as a child and graduated from Bayside High School, relatives and pals said.
Cutting hair didn’t come easily to Simpson. But he eventually joined his brother at the popular barbershop frequented by NBA star Kevin Durant and other celebrities.
“I taught him how to cut hair and at first he didn’t take to it but eventually he got in and came into the business with me,” Samuel Simpson said.
A handful of teary-eyed mourners carrying candles showed up at Strictly Skillz Tuesday morning to console each other and pay tribute to Simpson.
Several women were openly weeping, speaking through choked sobs.
“He was gone too soon,” one woman said. “It’s not that he’s gone, it’s the way they got him.”
Customer Emily Laguerre, 51, could only think of one description for the fallen barber.
“He’s wonderful,” she said. “It’s so sad to see life taken like this.”
“He’ll never say no, even if you don’t have the money,” she added. “He’ll say, ‘Pay me next week’”
Another mourner said Simpson’s death will create shockwaves.
“When you take away someone like him, you take away the whole community,” the woman said. “You can’t do that.”
Mourners outside the barbershop agreed that Simpson was likely killed during a robbery.
“It has to be,” one woman said. “He didn’t get in no trouble. He did no wrong. He made it and people get haters like that… someone hating.”
Simpson had racked up more than 16,000 followers on Instagram, where he often posted photos of his barbershop handiwork.
“May the spineless bastard who took you have no peace for the rest of their sorry ass life,” one of his followers wrote Tuesday.
With Thomas Tracy