A New York City restaurant patron accused of killing a delivery worker after months of threatening the eatery because of a quarrel over a condiment was found dead Friday morning, a law enforcement source said.
Glenn Hirsch, a 51-year-old who pleaded not guilty in June to murder, weapon possession, menacing and other charges in Zhiwen Yan's death, died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, the source said.
The medical examiner will conduct an autopsy to confirm how he died.
Police recovered a note reportedly left by Hirsch that maintained his innocence in killing of Yan, 45, who was gunned down on a Queens street April 30, while riding a scooter to make a delivery.
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"The loss of a human life is always tragic. Obviously, we would have preferred to try Mr. Glenn Hirsch for the calculated murder of Mr. Zhiwen Yan in a court of law, but this is no longer an option," Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a release.
Yan worked for more than a decade for Great Wall, a Chinese restaurant where Hirsch felt he didn’t get enough duck sauce with an order in November, prosecutors said. He 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.
Yan’s widow, Eva Zhao, said he was “a loving and kind husband, father, son, friend and community member.”
“We are all relieved that someone has been arrested,” she said in a statement.