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Cops probe shooting death of Wyandanch man

Homicide detectives are investigating the death of a 35-year-old man shot Wednesday night outside a Wyandanch home when he stepped out to make a phone call, police said.

Eric Brooks, of Wyandanch, was hit several times, police said. Authorities found him mortally wounded after a 911 call at 11:34 p.m.

Brooks had been staying at his girlfriend's home on North 22nd Street when he went outside to make the call -- and was quickly gunned down in the yard, family members said.

He had made plans to have a Mother's Day dinner Thursday with his daughter, Zanquasia Brooks, 17, and her mother, Brooks' ex-girlfriend, Zanquetta Harris, 36, the women said.

Instead, his family was making funeral arrangements.

"He was going to take us out for dinner, and now he's gone," Brooks said while clutching her son, Jayden, 2, near the crime scene. "I can't believe my father's not coming back."

Eric Brooks, who was released from prison Dec. 23 after serving a 7-year term on drug charges, was trying to build a relationship with his daughter and grandson, she said.

"He was trying to spend time with his family after being gone," she said. "He didn't deserve this. He was on the right path."

Harris said shootings are common in the neighborhood -- and that residents and visitors face danger every day.

The county police department's ShotSpotter technology, which detects gunshots, recorded 186 gunshot incidents in Wyandanch between December and April -- an average of almost two a day, authorities said.

"That's life in the 'hood," Harris said. "You can't even step outside these days to make a phone call. People do crazy things here."

Eric Brooks was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, where he was pronounced dead.

He had been arrested at least 16 times, with convictions on charges ranging from assault and grand larceny to selling drugs and possession of stolen property, records show.

Homicide chief Det. Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick said police have made no arrests.

"It's a senseless death," Harris said.

With John Valenti

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