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Customers Heartbroken Over Killing Of Beloved Gas Station Manager

BALDWIN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- There was an outpouring of sadness and shock Tuesday over the killing of a gas station manager on Long Island.

He was run down Monday by a customer fleeing a Baldwin station without paying for his gas.

As the manhunt continues, CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff spoke with the victim's son.

"A monster. If you do that to anybody for $22, you can do anything," Ali Dagdeviren said.

Fatal Hit-And-Run In Baldwin
A gas station worker was run over and killed Jan. 14, 2019, following a dispute over $22, and police are looking for the man who behind the wheel. (credit: Nassau County Police)

Dagdeviren sized up the man who struck his father, a beloved gas station manager who was mowed down when a customer deliberately ran him over. The suspect, who is seen on surveillance video in a hat and long dreadlocks, refused to pay and then jumped in an SUV and drove off as 59-year-old Cemal Dagdeviren put his hands on the hood to stop him.

"Over $22? And this place has so many different entrances and exits that you couldn't just back off and get away, from him? You had to run over him?" customer Brigette McQuilkin said.

A steady stream of heartbroken customers returned to the Pit Stop service station with candles -- and tears -- for the mechanic they knew as "John."

"Someone that you cared for and he cared for you, too," customer Evelyn Colon said.

"He's the nicest man in the whole world. My daughter would drive this way to work. He would be outside. Every time she was passing he would stop to wave to her," another customer said. "If our cars were getting worked on he would drive us home."

"He was just someone who was a hardworking person, an immigrant from Turkey, trying to do well and he was a nice man," another person said.

Cemal Dagdeviren of Levittown came here 25 years ago and had been providing for his wife and two sons, one of whom is now a firefighter.

"We have what we have because of him," Ali Dagdeviren said. "We are a decent family, paying taxes, working hard, never bothering anyone, never committed a crime, and it happened to us."

Police are hoping someone will recognize the suspect, himself, or his GMC Yukon or Suburban, which had no license plates or registration and a missing headlight.

"Tall, over 6 foot, thin, 30s ... He's wearing black cargo pants, a grey hooded sweatshirt," Nassau County Police Det. Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick said, describing the suspect.

The reward for information leading to an arrest was at $10,000 on Tuesday afternoon, half of it offered by the service station.

Ali Dagdeviren said his father had plans. He was looking forward to retirement. His friends have set up a GoFundMe page as they now plan for a funeral.

Friends and family said they were planning a 7 p.m. vigil Tuesday at the Pit Stop service station.

Nassau County Police are asking anyone with information about this incident to contact them at 1-800-244-TIPS.

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