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Pedro Narvaez, 45, of 21-37 33rd St. in Astoria and Lucio Moran, 36, of 118-07 14th Rd. in College Point, were working at Trade Fair at 37-11 Ditmars Blvd. about 4:30 a.m., when a passerby noticed that a window was broken and called police, said Sgt. Elias Nikas, a Police Department spokesman.
Nikas said both victims suffered multiple stab wounds. There were no suspects, but an investigation was continuing, he said.
The New York Post reported Tuesday that unnamed police said the suspect hid in the store after closing time and took off with $4,000 after ambushing his victims. Officers working for the information arm of the Police Department could not confirm the report.
Fausto Sarango, a nephew of Narvaez who had lived with his uncle in Astoria for nearly eight years, said Narvaez had worked tirelessly to save money to send to his family in Ecuador.
"We came over here in 1992 for the American dream," Sarango said. "He never went out and would go to work seven days a week and come home at eight in the morning every day. He was supporting his mother and his teenage son and daughter back home. We never would think something like this would happen here, but now our dream is broken."
His co-worker Moran came to the United States from Mexico 10 years ago.
Residents and business owners on the block expressed shock at the brutality of the crime.
Lisa Lee, who has owned and operated Golden Chopstick next to Trade Fair for the past 10 years, said she did not know the victims well but now is afraid for her own safety.
"I fear working so close to it now," Lee said. "It's scary because I know the workers sometimes come in here for dinner. Before, the neighborhood was OK, but now I don't know."
In response to the killings, City Council Speaker Peter Vallone (D-Astoria) held a news conference Monday to quell residents' fears.
"This killing is an aberration," Vallone said outside his office at 22-45 31st St., two blocks from the supermarket. "It is important that the streets of the entire city are safe. Crime will occur. This is not something you can anticipate, but this is a tragedy of the worst kind."
Vallone said he plans to meet with area business owners and police officials to call for a greater police presence.
"Astoria has always been one of the safest areas in the city," he said. "This is a wake-up call for all of us."
Vallone's call for more officers may do little to comfort neighbors like Edward Justiniano, who has lived in the neighborhood for 15 years and thinks the incidents of violent crime have been increasing.
"This area has always been a decent neighborhood," Justiniano said. "This pretty much is a shock. This is really the first time I've ever heard of something like this happening in the neighborhood, but now anywhere you go, you gotta look out. I guess this could happen anywhere."
Residents and officials said the murders revived memories of the brutal Wendy's massacre in May in which seven workers were herded into in the basement of the Flushing fast food chain, bound and gagged and shot execution-style. Five were killed.
Sarango's brother, Jimer, who lives in New Jersey and was visiting his relatives for the week, was the last relative to see Narvaez alive. He said his family is not taking the news of their uncle's murder very well.
"This can happen to anybody," he said. "Now it happens to my family and tomorrow it could be someone else. This is all very sad."
Fausto said his family is struggling with funeral arrangements and does not know how he and his relatives can afford to fly their uncle back to Ecuador for burial.
"It was our American dream to be here," Fausto said. "Now we have to survive. I don't know how we can do that without him."
Fausto said his family is accepting donations and if anyone would like to help, they can call him at 274-5064.
©2000 Community Newspaper Group
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