A family of eight was run over after an argument about cigarette smoke.
A mother is dead and seven members of her family have been hospitalized after a man allegedly ran them over at a New York 7-Eleven store.
Witnesses told NBC New York that it started when the driver, 35-year-old Jason Mendez, was confronted by the father of the family in the parking lot.
The dad asked Mendez not to blow cigarette smoke in his children’s faces.
After the exchange, Mendez allegedly drove into the family and through the glass front of the store before reversing back over them.
He struck all eight members of the family, including six children ranging in age from newborn to 10 years old, CBS New York reports.
Witness Cindy Schnalzer, who saw the scene unfold, said:
“The baby was crying, and there was like an 11-year-old girl that came out, and she was with her father out here, and the father was going ballistic wanting to know where the guy was.”
“I heard the father, he was telling the cops, ‘I told him not to blow smoke in front of my kids.'”
The family was rushed to the hospital, where the 32-year-old mother was declared dead. Other members of the family suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
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Mendez was taken into custody at gunpoint after he brandished a knife at police officers trying to arrest him.
On Wednesday, he was charged with second-degree murder for the mother’s death and brought up on seven charges of second-degree attempted murder for the other injured family members. He pleaded not guilty.
Police have not confirmed that Mendez drove into the family because of the argument over cigarette smoke.
The incident was a shock for the community, Haverstraw Police Capt. Martin Lund told CBS New York:
“It doesn’t happen very frequently in our community. It is a tragedy that happened today.”
Mendez will return to court on Tuesday.
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