A crazed customer holding a grudge and a gun was busted for the fatal April shooting of a beloved Chinese restaurant deliveryman, apparently set off by a months-long feud over the Queens eatery’s supposed dearth of duck sauce, police said Thursday.
Glenn Hirsch, 51, was arrested at his Briarwood home Wednesday night and charged with murder and gun possession for the bizarre April 30 killing of Zhiwen Yan, 45.
Eight guns were found in the home of Hirsch’s wife — half a mile from Hirsch’s apartment — although it remained unclear if any were used in the murder, police sources said.
A video captured the suspect circling the block around the restaurant before following the victim on the night of his death, the sources added.
The slain father of three’s wife hailed the arrest in the attack where Yan was blasted in the chest while riding his scooter near 108th St. and 67th Drive while making deliveries in Forest Hills.
“We are all relieved that someone has been arrested,” said Yan’s widow Eva Zhao in a statement. “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.”
A witness told cops the driver a of a Lexus SUV sped off from the murder scene. Yan worked for more than a decade at Great Wall, a Northern Boulevard restaurant whose manager, Kai Yang, 53, told police of a problem customer who drove the same type of vehicle.
The victim’s family attorney Jennifer Wu expressed dismay there was no hate-crime component in the charges announced: “An attack on one is an attack on all.”
Police quickly focused on Hirsch and eventually developed enough evidence to charge him. He was taken into custody without incident, an NYPD spokesman said, and several cops were inside the defendant’s apartment Thursday as the investigation continued.
The suspect made no statements after his arrest and was not a licensed gun owner, according to police.
“Zhiwen Yan was a beloved member of his Queens community whose tragic murder in April was heartbreaking,” NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell tweeted early Thursday. “@NYPDDetectives never relented in their investigation — and have now arrested 51-year-old Glenn Hirsch. He’s been charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon.”
Hirsch was expected for arraignment Thursday in Queens Criminal Court.
The victim became a favorite of customers along his route, remembered for his cheery greeting of “Hello, my friend!” to one and all. One customer told the Daily News that Yan was just a “wonderful, wonderful person. He would do anything for anyone. He really cares about everyone.”’
One of Hirsch’s neighbors was left reeling after learning of the accused killer living in the same building.
“It’s just shocking to know you live among people that have a feud like that,” said the woman, who declined to give her name. “What kind of rage did you have? It’s absolutely a sense of depravity.”
Hirsch’s elderly mother, who he frequently visits, lives close by the restaurant.
Great Wall manager Kai Yang, through an interpreter, told the Daily News last month that he first clashed with the suspect in November when Hirsch picked up an order of Chinese food, grabbed all the duck sauce from a self-serve station then left, only to return soon after with a complaint.
“You didn’t give me enough duck sauce,” the customer said, according to Yang, 53.
Yang tried to calm Hirsch down, telling him the sweet-and-sour orange condiment was free of charge and they could get more for him. The customer was unsatisfied and rejected Yang’s offer to retrieve more sauce from the back.
“I want a refund,” Yang recalled Hirsch saying.
The Daily News Flash
Catch up on the day’s top five stories every weekend afternoon.
But Yang refused to give the customer his money back. The irate customer then called police. Officers tried to persuade Yang to give a refund, which he refused.
The incident eventually ended and no arrests were made. Yang thought the confrontation was in the past—until Jan. 28. That’s when Yang reported Hirsch threatened him with a gun, police sources said. Yang alleged Hirsch damaged the locks on the restaurant and three times slashed the tires on his Honda CRV.
Yang said he fought back, dragging the man out of his car and taking his picture, which he provided to police.
He also gave police the customer’s license plate number.
Police traced the plate and identified the customer as Hirsch, who has a criminal history of 10 arrests between 1995 and 2012, all of which are sealed, sources said. One of the arrests, police sources said, involved a robbery with a gun.
Anderes Villa, a friend of the slain deliveryman and regular Great Wall customer, recalled how the killer created an atmosphere of terror around the business after the slaying.
“Scared, fear,” he recalled. “We thought he might come back. A person with a gun and 10 prior arrests … Really afraid that he would come back and hurt them.”