QUEENS, New York (WABC) -- Two employees of a Rockaway Park deli have been arrested and charged with assault after a verbal dispute turned physical on Sunday.
It happened early Sunday morning inside the Pickles & Pies Food Market & Deli, located at 202 Beach 116 Street.
Police received a call about an assault in progress at around 5 a.m., and upon arrival they discovered an injured 31-year-old male who had been in a confrontation with two employees.
According to police, the victim, James Keena, was a customer who got involved in a verbal dispute with the two store employees.
The dispute soon turned physical, as investigators say the two employees assaulted Keena, resulting in him suffering a seizure.
He was taken to St. John's Episcopal Hospital at South Shore, where he was listed in critical condition.
The two employees, identified as 23-year-old Jorge Hernandez and 34-year-old Saber Abuhamra, were taken into police custody.
Both men were charged with two counts of assault and one count of harassment.
Rodriguez was also charged with strangulation.
The news came as a shock to the community, with some believing that police arrested the wrong men.
"I think they should not be charged at all," said Jerry Sewaid, a resident in the neighborhood. "They defended the store. And plus they protected the store at the same time."
Prosecutors say Keena was punched and pushed, causing him to hit his head on a counter and then fall to the floor before being placed in a chokehold by Hernandez.
Abuhamra then allegedly punched and kicked the customer on his head and stomach as he was being held by his neck.
According to the criminal complaint, the victim was placed on life support because he could not breathe on his own.
Bail was set for the defendants at $30,000 cash or $60,000 bond.
Police are working to determine what the dispute was all about.
The investigation is ongoing.
Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News