Suspect Arrested in Fatal Shooting of Deli Worker Killed Over Cigarette Dispute

When a deli clerk repeatedly refused to sell a woman loose cigarettes, she became irate and threatened to "get her man" then return — which is exactly what happened, as the clerk was shot not long after

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Police have arrested a suspect in the shooting death of a Bronx deli worker following a dispute over a cigarette, officials said.

A female customer walked into the deli on the corner of White Plains Road and East 216th Street on Tuesday and demanded the clerk sell her a loose cigarette. When he repeatedly refused to do so, she became irate and threatened to "get her man" then return.

"He wouldn't sell her those cigarettes so she started behaving erratically. She started cursing at him," said one man who witnessed the incident.

The witness said a man showed up shortly after and coldly told the 20-year-old clerk "You're gonna be dead." He then fired multiple times, striking the worker in the face first, then in the back, according to the witness.

"After they killed him, they took the cigarettes, couple cartons, and they took money," the witness, who did not wish to be identified, said.

The community was distraught over the death of the clerk, who many said was a beloved fixture in their neighborhood.

"Every time you come into the story, he’s just really nice,” said Victoria Spaulding of the young man who had moved to the city from Yemen, and had just started working at the location a few months ago.

Hours after the attack, police charged Adrien Topping with murder, manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon. It was not known if the woman who demanded the cigarettes in the first place would face charges.

The alleged shooter is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday morning in the Bronx.

The shooting came four days after a 34-year-old worker was fatally shot at a deli in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx. Police have not arrested a suspect in the earlier shooting.

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