HEMPSTEAD - Police say a young man was shot in Hempstead last night during a robbery attempt, but the lighter in his pocket blocked the bullet from reaching its target.

According to investigators, a 22-year-old busboy was on his way home at 9:20 p.m. when three men held him up at Morrell Avenue and Morton Street.

The suspects demanded money from the victim, and when he backed away, one of them shot the 22-year-old in the leg at close range. However, the victim got away with only a slight bruise because a lighter in his pocket blocked the bullet, police say.

After the 22-year-old escaped and called 911, he reached into his pocket and pulled out not only his broken BIC lighter, but also a 9mm bullet. Detective Sgt. Ray Cote, of the Nassau County Police Department, says it turns out the bullet was deficient.

Police say the gunmen didn't steal any of the victim's money or valuables.