Former jockey dies after parking dispute at Brooklyn gas station

WABC logo
Monday, March 18, 2024
Former jockey dies at parking dispute at Brooklyn gas station
Sonia Rincon has the latest developments from Brooklyn where a vigil was being held Sunday night.

EAST FLATBUSH, Brooklyn (WABC) -- A parking dispute at a Brooklyn gas station turned deadly when a man tried to stop his car from getting towed, police said.

It happened Saturday evening at 1143 Clarkson Avenue in East Flatbush.

Police say the 30-year-old tow truck driver punched the Carlyle Thomas, 61, so hard he fell to the ground and hit his head. His last moments can be seen on surveillance video, trying to stop the flatbed truck driver from towing his minivan from the Shell Station on Rockaway Avenue. He opened the driver's door, only to turn around and see the driver, who punches him.

The tow truck driver has not yet been charged but is in police custody.

Family members say Thomas had an arrangement with the owner of the gas station that allowed him to park there for $10 if he could not find a parking spot on the street.

Thomas' fiancée, Andrea Gooden, says the owner had Thomas' number and could have called him if he needed to move the car, but for some reason decided to call a tow truck - and that is when the deadly argument unfolded right in front of the gas pumps.

Gooden says she blames the gas station owner just as much as the tow truck driver for the death of the man she loved.

"He said, 'I was mad with him, so I called the tow truck.' So you're mad with him and he loses his life?" Gooden said.,

She says she spoke with the owner and doesn't understand why he couldn't have made a simple phone call to have him move the car or pay up.

"He could have called him. He had his number. He could have called me, because he called him at 2:00 in the morning to come downstairs and help his workers when someone was breaking into his stores. And he'd never tell him no," Gooden adds.

Thomas lived next door to the gas station.

"He was a family member in here. I'll be honest. Whenever somebody tried to steal something in here, he was the kind of guy who'd grab stuff and bring it back to me, Like I remember my own experiences with him," said Shell Station worker Imran Aziz.

Even Aziz agrees management made a terrible mistake.

"Before calling the tow guy, they should have called him. Did you pay? No? Are you coming to pay?" Aziz added.

Somebody did call Thomas, but after the tow truck had arrived -- his daughter says blame lies squarely with the driver who pulled the punch.

A vigil was underway Sunday night at the gas station. The vigil on Sunday effectively paralyzed the gas station, forcing it to stay closed for hours, while the owner stayed away.

The 61-year-old was a horse racing jockey in his younger days in Jamaica, who later worked at the Aqueduct Race Track with horses.

His family says he did not deserve this and they want justice.

ALSO READ | Man accused of squatting in Queens home faces judge, promises 'revelation' in case

7 On Your Side Investigative reporter Dan Krauth has the story.

* Get Eyewitness News Delivered

* Follow us on YouTube

* More local news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.