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A 28-year-old Flushing man was killed Thursday during a fight at a Long Island City gas station after he attacked an employee who was defending himself, the gas station owner said.
Police received a 911 call at around 6 a.m. Thursday morning about an assault at the Gulf station at 53-26 Van Dam St., authorities said. When the officers got to the scene, they saw Oscar Arzeno, of Franklin Avenue and Saull Street, lying unconscious and unresponsive on the pavement of Van Dam Street, police said.
An employee, who the gas station owner Jervail Singh identified as his 28-year-old nephew Jesse Singh, is currently in custody. Jesse Singh had not been charged with any crime as of Tuesday afternoon.
Arzeno was later taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead on arrival, police said.
“He was protecting himself,” said 40-year-old P.J. Pecorino, a friend of Singh’s. “I’m sorry the guy died.”
Jervail Singh, who has owned the Gulf station for 23 years and has been in the business for 30 years, said he had heard the incident occurred when Arzeno came to the station drunk around 4:30 a.m. and tried to get some money out of the ATM machine. When it would not disperse money, Arzeno argued with Jesse Singh, who was working early Thursday morning.
After the argument, Arzeno went outside near the pumps and began chasing away the customers, Jervail Singh said. According to the gas station owner, the confrontation started when Jesse Singh went out to help a customer at one of the pump stations and Arzeno punched him. Jesse Singh fought back. At one point Arzeno ripped out a pump and hose and tried to hit him with it. The fight continued out into the street until Arzeno fell down, Jervail Singh said.
“This is 100 percent self-defense,” Jervail Singh said. “My guy never had no record all his life.”
Raj Kumar, 41, another employee, said Jesse Singh never had an incident at the gas station.
“I see him all the time working hard here,” Kumar said. “It’s not an easy job.”
Police closed down Van Dam Street between 35th Street and Review Avenue, which created a huge bottleneck of cars and trucks trying to get through either road or drive over the nearby John Jay Byrne Bridge.
Jervail Singh said while people have died at gas stations across the city, he did not believe the job was inherently perilous.
“It’s not a dangerous job because I’ve been doing it all my life,” he said.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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