Today’s news:

Murder on Lunar New Year

Hongqi Zhang, who police believe was in his 40s, was walking a block ahead of a group of friends near the corner of Elder Avenue and Colden Street when he was confronted by a group of three men, authorities said. Police said after a brief confrontation, Zhang was stabbed several times in the chest and stomach and robbed of his cell phone and jewelry. Police said Zhang's friends gave chase when they realized what was happening, but the suspects fled. Zhang was taken to New York Hospital Queens, located just blocks from where the attack occurred, and died later Sunday, police said.City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) decried the murder and called for justice for the victim. Police said Zhang has no family in the United States and they were working to contact his relatives in China. "Police are on top of it pursuing the criminals involved," Liu said. "The community hopes they will be put away for a very long time for this vicious murder they committed." Jennifer Wen, 24, who lives less than a block away from the site of the attack, said the neighborhood was typically quiet and she was shocked when she heard of Zhang's death. "He shouldn't have had to die like that," said Wen, who is Taiwanese. "Lunar New Year is supposed to be a time of celebration."Sunday's murder was the second to occur this year in the 109th Precinct, which covers Flushing, Whitestone, Linden Hill and College Point, according to the precinct's criminal statistics. Police described Zhang's attackers as black men between the age of 18 and 20. Authorities said they were last seen running south on Colden Avenue. Police were asking anyone who has any information on the attack to call Crimestoppers at 800-577-TIPS. All calls will remain confidential. Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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