The Wantagh gas station manager who was attacked by five men, including an ex-police officer who allegedly spewed anti-immigrant epithets, says he plans to “fight” to ensure harsh penalties for his assailants.
“I want them to go to jail for a long time. They need a good lesson,” said Yavuz Erdogan, who was nursing an injured hand Thursday at the OK gas station on Wantagh Avenue. Erdogan, a Turkish immigrant, was naturalized last March after 15 years in the country.
Erdogan said four men attacked a clerk after refusing to sell a cigar to an underage customer. As Nassau County police investigated, the men returned with Richard Vitale, 49, of Levittown. Erdogan said the man was a retired New York police officer who considered himself a “big shot.”
In the ensuing fracas, Erdogan and a police officer were injured. Police charged Vitale, his sons, Richard Jr., 20, and Gregory, 21, as well as Christopher Makhmaltchi, 19, and Nicholas Lazarus 17, with various assault, weapons and obstruction charges.
Kathy Odessa, executive director of the 800 member Long Island Gas Retailers Association, said violence more often stemmed from customers being rejected for tobacco or alcohol than outright discrimination.