Taking a brief break from politics to remind us that even apart from the election people can get really crazy, even over trivial things. This road rage incident in Queens went way beyond two drivers shouting obscenities at each other. What started as a fight over a parking spot escalated as four people exited two cars and started throwing punches. One person then started swinging a baseball bat at the car’s occupants. Two simultaneous fights continued in the middle of the busy street until one driver, later identified as 24-year-old Jie Zou, got back in his Audi as if to drive away.
But the guy with the bat wasn’t done. He followed Zou and took a swing at the car. Zou quickly made a U-turn that put him across the street and momentarily out of the way. The guy with the bat followed him across the street and started shouting and hitting the car with the bat. And that’s when Zou really lost it. He plowed directly into the man with the bat, accelerating onto the sidewalk and crashing through the glass front of a bakery. At least four people were hurt, though somewhat miraculously the injuries were apparently pretty minor:
Two females suffered minor injuries after being injured by shattered glass and were taken to NewYork-Presbyterian Queens.
All four occupants of the two vehicles were arrested, with two going to the hospital and two taken to the 109th Precinct.
Jie Zou, 24, was charged with reckless endangerment and assault. Jonathan Zhang, 35, was charged with assault.
That no one was killed is the only good news here. The bad news is that the bakery which was destroyed in this melee had just opened yesterday for the first time. The owner sounded a bit distraught:
Owner John Lo showed CBS2 all that was left of his brand new equipment and merchandise. Monday marked his grand opening.
“It’s unbelievable, how a car can go that way,” Lo said.
As Lo will have the glass and an interior wall fixed, but the road rage didn’t just cost him business. One of his employees is recovering after getting struck by a shard of glass.
“I’m so sad and I’m really worried about my employee. I’m really worried about my business, too,” Lo said.
Finally, some are saying this incident didn’t come out of the blue. The city is working on a plan to reduce parking spaces in the area which means there is more frequent conflict between drivers for open spaces:
For some Queens parking devotees, the motorist-on-motorist violence is just a preview of the NIMBY backlash expected under a citywide plan to to install a .3 mile busway along the clogged corridor between Northern Boulevard and Sanford Avenue.
“What happened yesterday is a little appetizer of what’s going to happen, but even worse,” Andy Chen, a driver and activist with Asian American Community Empowerment, told Gothamist. “The [Department of Transportation] and Mayor’s Office bears responsibility for what actually happened.”
A temporary restraining order on the project was put in place last Friday. A judge will decide if the planned “busyway” can continue next month. I wonder if this incident will play into the judge’s decision.