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Two 21-year-old men were arraigned Sunday night in connection with the murder of a Flushing gas station attendant during a robbery last month, the Queens district attorney said.
Christopher Roberts of the Bronx was held without bail following his arraignment on second-degree murder, robbery and criminal possession of a weapon charges, Queens DA Richard Brown said.
Roberts and Maurice Echols, of 89th Avenue in Jamaica, who was also charged with robbery counts Sunday, allegedly held up a Mobil gas station at College Point Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue around 1:20 a.m. July 25 and Roberts allegedly shot the overnight attendant, Nadeem Khan, to death, according to the DA.
“The victim murdered was simply at his job working when he was senselessly shot and killed. This type of violence will not be tolerated,” Brown said in a statement.
Khan, 39, was a Pakistani immigrant living in Nassau County and found by a person who came to the gas station sometime after the shooting. The whole incident, where the pair allegedly stole cigarettes and cigars, was captured on surveillance cameras, Brown said.
Roberts and Echols, who was held on $400,000 bail, allegedly walked out of the gas station in a nonchalant manner after robbing the place while Khan lay on the floor dying, the footage showed.
“The hearts of the community go out to the Khan family as they move through this trying time,” state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) said in a press release following the killing.
Roberts was ordered to return to court this Friday, while his alleged accomplice was ordered to return Aug. 19, Brown said.
Roberts and Echols were also accused of holding up a Chinese restaurant at 41st Avenue and 133rd Street in Flushing during the week, according to the DA.
On July 28, around 5 a.m., they entered the eatery armed with a silver handgun and allegedly took $800 in cash from the register, according to Brown. They returned the next day around 12:30 p.m. and stole an undisclosed amount of cash and tried to rob the restaurant again the following afternoon, but did not take any cash, the DA said.
If convicted of murder and the other charges, Roberts faces 25 years to life in prison, the DA’s office said. Echols faces up to 25 years if found guilty on robbery charges, according to the DA’s office.
The murder sparked calls from community members and elected officials for a stronger police presence in the area since it has been inundated with crimes recently.
A person who works at the Mobil gas station, and who asked not be named or identified, said in an interview July 28 that more protection was needed in the community and advocated for more surveillance cameras at intersections.
The worker said Khan’s family was devastated by his death and his body was flown to Pakistan to be buried.
“He didn’t even make enough money to fly his own coffin home,” the worker said of Khan.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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