Nov. 10, 2023 By Bill Parry
A Bronx man was arrested on Thursday, Nov. 9, and booked at the 114th Precinct in Astoria, where he was charged with murder in connection with a fatal hit-and-run just five blocks east of the precinct on the morning of Friday, Oct. 20, according to the NYPD.
Zahir Williams, 24, of Beck Street in the Bronx, was arraigned Friday in Queens Criminal Court nearly three weeks after he allegedly ran over Francis Ortega, 50, of Division Avenue in Brooklyn, at the intersection of Astoria Boulevard South and Steinway Street.
Williams was behind the wheel of a Nissan with two associates when he got into a fender-bender with Ortega, who was driving a BMW just after 4 a.m.on Oct. 20.
According to the criminal complaint, based on video surveillance and witness accounts, Williams and his two passengers proceeded to punch and kick Ortega as he stood next to his vehicle. Ortega fell next to his car and Williams “stomped” on the victim’s body before getting into Ortega’s vehicle and slamming him with the driver’s side door.
One of his associates dragged Ortega away from the car door and left him on the roadway as Williams sped away. After circling the block, Williams returned to the scene and ran the victim over with his own car, thereby causing his death, according to the complaint. Williams and his two friends ran off southbound on Steinway Street. The two other men remain at large.
EMS responded to the scene and rushed Ortega to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short while later.
In addition to the murder charge, Williams was criminally charged with gang assault in the first degree and unauthorized use of a vehicle.
Queens Criminal Court Judge Stephanie Zaro ordered Williams to return to court on Nov. 16.