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‘They deserve justice’: Community rallies around family of Middle Village food delivery worker fatally shot in Forest Hills

Yan food delivery shot Forest Hills murder
Zhiwen Yan, 45, was shot in the chest and killed while delivering food on his scooter at the corner of 108th Street and 67th Drive in Forest Hills on Saturday, April 30. (Photo via GoFundMe)

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help support the family of Zhiwen Yan, a Chinese food delivery worker who was shot and killed on his scooter in Forest Hills on Saturday, April 30.

Yan, 45, of Middle Village, was shot in the chest and killed while delivering Great Wall’s Chinese Food on his scooter at the corner of 108th Street and 67th Drive at about 9:34 p.m., according to amNewYork Metro. 

According to authorities, the suspect who shot Yan fled in a light silver/tan sedan that was last seen heading eastbound along 67th Drive. It’s not clear at this point whether Yan was deliberately targeted. 

Yan, who immigrated from China and spoke Mandarin, worked in food delivery for more than 20 years. He is survived by his wife, who works at Lulu Dry Cleaners, and his three children, ages 2, 12 and 14. The family has served the Forest Hills community for over 20 years, according to residents. 

Local resident Frances Kweller, who organized the GoFundMe on behalf of Yan’s wife, said the funds are being raised in a coordinated effort with Sooi Chung, Yan’s Great Wall employer for more than 20 years. To date, the campaign has surpassed its $100,000 goal with more than $101,000 raised. 

“This money will go directly to the family knowing this was crowdsourced from the Forest Hills and surrounding areas to support immediate needs and schooling for the three surviving minor children,” Kweller wrote. “The First in Family Fund, a registered nonprofit 501(c)(3), will donate 100% of the money raised to the family. We will not subtract any of this money for overhead fees of any kind. All of these funds will be delivered to the family as a charitable donation.”

On Sunday, Congresswoman Grace Meng, a representative from Councilwoman Lynn Schulman’s office and community activists visited Yan’s family vowing that justice will be served. 

“This delivery worker was working hard, trying to earn a living to support his family when he was senselessly shot and killed. The incident underscores the need to combat gun violence throughout our city, and I am confident that the perpetrator will be apprehended,” Meng said. “The person responsible must face justice. My office will remain in touch with the 112th Precinct, and I will continue to be there for the family to provide any assistance they need.”

Meng, Schulman, Senator Toby Stavisky and Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi issued a joint statement saying, “The victim of this horrific crime was known throughout our communities, and his memory will be a blessing to all who knew him.” 

On Twitter, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said, “No family deserves to experience the grief that Zhiwen Yan’s family is feeling this morning. Our thoughts are with them and everyone in Forest Hills who loved him.” 

Senator Joseph Addabbo remembered Yan as a “shining example of the American Dream,” emigrating from China and working hard to provide a better life for his family. 

“Food delivery drivers already have a tough job, and no one should have to fear being shot at while they are working. Elected officials need to work in tandem with the NYPD and local communities in order to end gun violence on our streets, and I vow to continue in this endeavor so no family will have to go through what the Yan family is currently facing,” Addabbo said. 

In remembrance of Yan who was a community staple, neighbors have started a makeshift memorial with pictures, flowers and letters to the family outside of the Great Wall restaurant, located at 104-37 Queens Blvd. 

A mural outside Great Wall Chinese Food in Forest Hills commemorates delivery worker Zhiwen Yan on Tuesday, May 3, 2022. (Photo by Paul Frangipane) 

A resident, Karlo, hung a letter that he and his mother wrote to the Yan family. 

“We wanted to leave it here because we noticed people just leaving their notes and never really had a chance to say goodbye, so I figured this would be my way of saying goodbye,” Karlo said. 

Forest Hills resident Karlo hangs a letter to Zhiwen Yan at a memorial commemorating him outside Great Wall Chinese Food in Forest Hills on Tuesday, May 3, 2022. (Photo by Paul Frangipane) 

According to Karlo, Yan would deliver food to him and his parents in the neighborhood. 

“That’s my friendly neighborhood delivery man, and on top of that he was a great father and he was always respectful to my parents,” Karlo said. “He obviously made a good impression, not just on me but the whole community. I’m pretty sure a lot of people remember him for his charm and even that smiling face you would see from time to time. I guess for a lot of us it felt like he was always gonna be there.” 

Friends and family leave messages for Zhiwen Yan at a memorial commemorating him outside Great Wall Chinese Food in Forest Hills on Tuesday, May 3, 2022. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

Linda Slaton, who has lived in the building across the street from the restaurant for 35 years, said she knew Yan since he started working in the neighborhood. 

“We became friends. I used to order food all the time from him. As a matter of fact, the day before I ordered Chinese food [and] he came to my house. We were always friends. We used to talk about everything,” Slaton said.

Slaton recalled the last day she saw Yan.

“I saw him that morning and then that night I got it on my phone that someone was killed on 108th Street. I would never believe in a million years that I would know this person. I’m devastated and totally in shock. You couldn’t meet a nicer man than him. He left a very, very big impression and remembered everybody. The whole neighborhood is devastated,” Slaton said. “He was part of Forest Hills.” 

A mural outside Great Wall Chinese Food in Forest Hills commemorates delivery worker Zhiwen Yan on Tuesday, May 3, 2022.

So far, no arrests have been made in the ongoing investigation, according to authorities.

Anyone with information regarding the homicide can call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (for Spanish, dial 888-57-PISTA). You can also submit tips online at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org, or on Twitter @NYPDTips. All calls and messages are kept confidential.

Additional reporting by Paul Frangipane

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