New York Daily News
The shooting death of a beloved Queens Chinese food deliveryman could be linked to a months-long dispute involving a customer furious he didn’t get enough duck sauce with his order.
The NYPD wants to question the disgruntled customer — a 50-year-old man once charged with armed robbery — about the Saturday night shooting of Zhiwen Yan as he was riding his scooter near 198th St. and 67th Drive in Forest Hills, sources said Monday.
Someone who heard the shots told police a Lexus SUV sped away from the scene.
The angry customer drives a Lexus SUV, according to Kai Yang, 53, the manager of Great Wall, the restaurant where Yan worked for more than a decade about six blocks from the crime scene.
Yang, through an interpreter. said the first time he saw potential suspect was in November when the man picked up his food order, grabbed duck sauce from a self-serve station then left, only to return moments later with a complaint.
“You didn’t give me enough duck sauce,” the customer said.
Yang tried to calm the man down, telling him the condiment was free of charge and that he could take as much as he wanted. But then the customer complained there was none left and refused Yang’s offer to go get more sauce for him.
“I want a refund,” Yang quoted the customer saying.
But Yang said he couldn’t do that, especially during a pandemic and not knowing if any of the food had already been eaten. The customer, still angry, called police, with officers responding and trying in vain to get Yang to provide a refund.
The incident petered out, Yang said, or so he thought.
Yang reported that on Jan. 28 the same man menaced him with a gun, police sources said. Yang also said the man damaged the locks in front of the restaurant and slashed the tires on Yang’s Honda CRV. But Yang said he fought back, dragging the man out of his car and taking his picture, then providing the photo to police.
He also gave police the customer’s license plate number.
Police traced the plate and identified the customer as a nearby resident with 10 arrests on his record, all sealed and occurring between 1995 and 2012. One of the arrests, sources said, involved a robbery with a gun.
Cops have been unable to track the customer down since Yan’s senseless slaying.
His Lexus has now been flagged with an I-card, or investigation card, meaning any cop who stops the vehicle for an unrelated reason will know the driver is being sought for questioning in the shooting.
At the same time, police have not ruled out the possibility that the Lexus that sped away from the murder scene had no connection to the shooting or the possibility that Yan was the victim of a hate crime.
On Sunday, Yan’s grief-stricken widow sat at her living room table in Middle Village, wishing she and her husband had more time.
“My husband wakes up every day and just works,” Eva Zhao said through a translator, fighting back the tears that never stopped flowing as she searched for a recent picture of her husband. “He works so hard, he didn’t have time to take a picture.”
Yan, 45, and Zhao had been married for seven years and have two daughters and one son.
“I keep crying,” Zhao said, breaking down. “He meant everything to me. He took good care of me and the family.”
The hardworking dad, who was on his way to his next delivery, was struck in the chest and fell off the scooter.
Medics rushed Yan to Elmhurst Hospital, where he died.
The victim, who worked two other jobs as well, was remembered by Great Wall customers as unusually friendly and caring.
“He was always very pleasant, always with a smile, always very respectful. Even during COVID, he would deliver,” Great Wall regular Liza Padilla said. “He was a first responder in a sense. He was always there. When nobody could go out, they were still delivering. And he was one of the delivery people that we cherished.”