BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut barber who was fatally shot in his shop while trying to subdue a gunman is being called a hero for protecting customers, including a young boy whose hair he had just cut.

Deon Rodney was working at the Just Right Cutz barbershop in Bridgeport on Saturday evening when the gunman chased another man into the shop.

Justin Riley, owner of the barbershop, told the Connecticut Post that Rodney punched and tackled the gunman and the weapon went off during the struggle. Riley said the 32-year-old Rodney had a son about the boy's age and had an intense dislike for bullies.

"He saved everyone in the barbershop," Riley said. "There were five customers in the barbershop at the time, including this little boy. Deon had finished his haircut and the boy was getting ready to go outside when the gunman came in. He just punched and tackled the gunman to the ground. They had a scuffle and he got shot."

Rodney died at a hospital several hours after being shot in the abdomen. He was the city's 22nd homicide victim of the year.

"He not only wanted to protect the man seeking refuge in the barbershop, but his customers as well," said Capt. Roderick Porter, of Bridgeport police. "It's really tragic."

The shooter remains at large. Police said they are following some good leads and hope to make an arrest soon. The suspect was described as a man dressed in black who was wearing a black ski mask.

Authorities are withholding the name of the man who was chased into the barbershop by the gunman. It's not clear why he was targeted.

People placed lit candles in glass jars in front of the barbershop after the shooting and spelled out "Deon" with smaller, round candles to pay tribute to Rodney.

Riley said he wanted to turn over the barbershop to Rodney someday.

"He's dead because of these people running around with guns," he said. "It's just gotten crazy in this city."

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Information from: Connecticut Post, http://www.connpost.com