By PHILIP MESSING
June 17, 2008 -- The 20-year-old college-student son of a globetrotting UN staffer fatally shot himself in the head at a popular Chelsea rifle range that had sold him ammunition, rented him a high-powered rifle - and left him on his own, The Post has learned.
The bizarre suicide of Patrick Karorero happened June 3 inside the West Side Pistol Range on West 20th Street, which caters to Wall Street types, law-enforcement officials and shooting hobbyists.
It's where Robert De Niro, playing cabby Travis Bickle in the 1976 movie "Taxi Driver," was filmed staring down a barrel of a gun.
The range's owner, Robert Derrig, did not return calls for comment, and the NYPD said only the tragedy was "under investigation."
The mayor's office, which has waged a highly publicized campaign against gun violence, also declined to comment.
Sources familiar with the case provided the following account:
Karorero, who had first visited the range on May 20, paid a $25 range fee and purchased three boxes, or 150 rounds, of 9mm ammunition for an additional $45.
He was then rented a Hi-Point 9mm carbine rifle for another $40 and left alone to practice.
The Hi-Point is the same type of rifle wielded by one of the gunmen in the Columbine HS massacre.
At about 9 p.m., some two hours after showing up, a jittery Karorero waited for several other target shooters near him to leave the area.
Then, after looking distractedly to either side, he fired a rifle shot into his head.
The bullet tore a hole in the ceiling of the range, which is in the basement of an office building.
The tragedy - captured on surveillance tape - was ruled a suicide by the Medical Examiner's Office. Karorero left no note.
The city's administrative code states, "Any person under the age of 21 years may carry, fire or use any rifle or gun in the actual presence or under the direct supervision of any person who is the holder of a rifle or shotgun permit." The same provision applies to buying ammunition.
The range has cameras, and employees may have been watching him on a monitor. But experts consulted by The Post said that would not constitute "direct supervision."
Karorero, who was born in the African country of Burundi, had been living in the United States since August 2002 and was studying computer science at Plattsburgh State University.
His father, Pascal Karorero, a Rwandan national, rushed home from Chad, where he is based.
"He should not have been allowed on the range," the elder Karorero insisted. "If you run this type of business, you should exercise supervision throughout."
"I was completely taken aback that he was involved in any type of firearms activities - he was involved in computer games."
The dad said that due to his UN work, his son had been raised in various war-torn African countries.
"It seems to me," he said, "that it is much, much easier to have access to a gun here than it is elsewhere."
GUNSHOT SUICIDE AT RANGE - New York Post