NEW YORK - The man accused of gunning down a popular Chinese food delivery worker in Forest Hills denied killing the man after an argument with the restaurant where the victim worked over duck sauce.
Glenn Hirsch, 51, pleaded not guilty as his arraignment Thursday on murder, weapon possession, menacing and other charges stemming from the death of Zhiwen Yan, 45.
Prosecutors said Hirsch had a grudge against the Great Wall restaurant because of an argument in November over the sauce.
Hirsch was arrested Wednesday for the shooting death on April 30 of Yan while he rode a scooter during a delivery near the intersection of 108th Street and 67th Drive, said police.
"A petty dispute over a takeout order became an obsessive point of contention for the defendant, who began to stalk and harass employees at the restaurant for months," Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a release. "The tragic end result was the murder of a hard-working employee."
Hirsch was given more of the sweet-and-sour condiment but demanded a refund and called police when he didn't get one, according to prosecutors.
Authorities say that over the months that followed, Hirsch damaged a Great Wall worker's car, made threatening remarks to employees, including Yan, and pulled a gun on one of them.
On April 30, surveillance cameras captured Hirsch driving by Great Wall seven times in about two hours and then following Yan, according to prosecutors.
Hirsch's lawyer, Michael Horn, told reporters that he believes authorities "arrested the wrong man."
He said Hirsch had an argument with Great Wall's manager in November, but nothing more.
"He had no quarrel over any deliveryman, and he has not done anything to harm any deliveryman," the attorney said.
Police at the time of the deadly shooting said that he was simply passing through the neighborhood on his scooter when someone fired a gun several times, striking him.
His widow addressed the media in Chinese Thursday.
"We are all relieved that someone has been arrested," said Eva Zhao. "We are grateful to the NYPD and have full confidence that the Queens District Attorney will bring justice to Zhiwen Yan, a loving and kind husband, father, son, friend and community member."
"He was the heart of Forest Hills to so many," said Matthew Murray, a local resident.
The shooter got into a gray or tan sedan and sped away from the scene.
With the Associated Press