Worker in custody after Gulf fight

Worker in custody after Gulf fight
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Rebecca Henely

The family of a 28-year-old Flushing man, who died in a fight with a Long Island City gas station attendant last Thursday, disputed the owner’s contention that his worker was defending himself.

“The gas attendant could have handled it many other ways,” said a family member of Oscar Arzeno who declined to be identified.

Police received a 911 call at around 6 a.m. last 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 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.”

The medical examiner’s office ruled Arzeno’s death a homicide from compression of the neck.

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. When it would not disperse money, Arzeno argued with Jesse Singh, who was working early last Thursday morning.

Arzeno then 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 hose and tried to hit him with it. The fight spilled 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.”

Arzeno’s family member said that from the surveillance video it looked like Jesse Singh continued to attack even after the initial blow and it seemed as if Jesse Singh ran after Arzeno and attempted to strangle him.

“At that point, my cousin now becomes the victim,” the relative said.

Arzeno’s family member said he had an 8-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old son and that he had planned to move to Florida to marry his fiancée soon.

“Oscar was a very honest person,” the relative said. “He was a very family-oriented person.”

The relative said the family had heard Jesse Singh had assaulted an ex-co-worker. The Queens district attorney’s office had no record of any criminal complaints for Jesse Singh.

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.”

Arzeno’s family member said the family wants justice for his death and called Jesse Singh “a killer.”

“There’s a limit that you don’t cross, and he crossed it,” the relative said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.