Nassau County police are searching for two suspects who went on an anti-Muslim rant and threatened to kill two Cedarhurst gas station clerks because of their religion, police said.
The incident, which occurred at a Shell gas station on Rockaway Avenue on Saturday night, is also being investigated as a potential bias crime due to the suspects’ racial slurs and anti-Muslim remarks.
According to police, the two suspects—a man and a woman—grew angry after they were denied “slushies” because the gas station wasn’t able to make the frozen beverages at that time. They became more enraged when a store clerk denied their use of an electronic food stamps card to purchase several other unidentified items.
That prompted the woman to throw food at the clerk and “to use racial slurs, anti-Muslim remarks and threatened to kill both store clerks,” said Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun, the police department’s chief spokesman, at a press conference Monday at police headquarters in Mineola.
When one of the clerks demanded they leave, the male suspect pushed a New York State Lotto machine to the ground, causing $4,000 worth of damage, LeBrun said. The man also launched a 6-foot metal cart and two bottles of antifreeze in the clerks’ direction, he added.
Prior to fleeing the store, the pair repeated their anti-Muslim remarks and physical threats.
LeBrun declined to go into specifics about what was said, reiterating that they were “very disparaging and very harmful remarks.”
“I’m just going to basically state that they were derogatory, and they did threaten to kill them based on their religious and ethnic origin,” LeBrun said.
A manager at the gas station told the Press he wasn’t working Saturday but he was informed the woman shouted, “Kill him! Kill him!” to her companion.
“They messed up the place,” said the manager, who wished only to be identified by his initials, G.S.
The manager said this was the first time in three decades that anything like this had happened.
“Even in 9/11 [this] never happened,” he told the Press. “I don’t know what was in their mind.”
G.S. said he didn’t know what specifically was said during the altercation.
At the press conference, LeBrun said bias crimes “will not be tolerated in Nassau County.”
Although police are investigating the incident as a possible bias crime, LeBrun said authorities believe it was the clerk’s insistence that “slushies” were unavailable that sparked the outburst.
The suspects were last seen fleeing the store northbound on Rockaway Avenue. The man was described as black, wearing a black shirt, shorts, and a blue baseball cap that was turned backwards. The woman was described as black, wearing a white shirt, shorts and long, black, braided hair.
Authorities are analyzing video footage and information regarding the electronic food stamps card.
Detectives ask anyone with information about the crime to call Nassau County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS. All calls are anonymous.
(Featured photo: Tony Webster/Creative Commons License)