Francisco Colon, 54, explained that it all began after he moved trashcans that he said were blocking a free parking space in front of Maspeth Bingo at 69th Place and Grand Avenue on the morning of October 29.
“I saw three garbage cans in the street and I went to move them out of the way and went to park,” Colon recalled after being released from Elmhurst Hospital last week. “The guy ran out of the bingo hall and said he was saving the spot for the ‘lady who runs the bingo hall.’”
That “guy” was 55-year-old Heriberto Zepata of East New York. After retuning to his car, Colon said Zepata hit his truck while he was again trying to take the free parking space.
“I asked him not to hit my truck or he’s going to have a problem,” Colon said.
When he turned around to walk back to his truck, Zepata pulled out the knife and began to charge.
“I reached for my hand and he got my face,” he explained, adding that he thought Zepata was trying to stab his chest. “I didn’t expect this guy to pull out a knife. There was no fighting, no nothing.”
Zepata, who fled the scene, was later arrested by members of the 104th Detective Squad and charged with assault and criminal possession of a weapon.
Following the episode, Colon was rushed to Elmhurst General, where he received five stitches just above his brow and four in his hand.
“The crazy thing is that I got stabbed for a parking spot,” he said. “Obviously I can’t talk to people any more. I just have to do my own thing.”
Numerous community groups use the bingo hall for events on various days of the week. Property manager Robert Aiello said he is currently unaware of who was running the game at the time of the attack.
“On any given day, if you went up there on a Wednesday morning for instance, any number of organizations could be running that game,” he said.
Aiello added that he is not surprised to hear that parking spots are being held in front of the building.
“I know that generally people do try to hold parking sports for each other because there isn’t a lot of parking,” he said.