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The man accused of killing a Chinese food delivery driver, dubbed the "Duck Sauce Killer," has taken his own life.
Glenn Hirsch, 51, was found dead in his Queens, New York apartment after sustaining a self-inflicted gunshot wound just hours before he was set to appear in court, law enforcement sources told the New York Post. Hirsch was out on bail while awaiting trial for the murder of food deliveryman Zhiwen Yan, 45, who was shot to death while making a delivery on April 30. He was reportedly expecting to be arraigned on new gun possession charges before he died.
Hirsch was accused of engaging in a series of disputes with Yan’s place of employment, the Great Wall restaurant on Queens Boulevard, after taking issue with not receiving enough duck sauce with his food order, earning him the moniker the “Duck Sauce Killer.”
Hirsch’s suicide has shaken those related to the case, including Yan’s family, per their attorney Jennifer Wu.
“We just found out that [the] defendant killed himself,” Wu said, according to CBS News. “Zhiwen Yan’s family is in shock. We ask for privacy and thank the NYPD and District Attorney for their efforts to seek justice.”
Hirsch allegedly denied having a role in Yan’s murder in a suicide note he reportedly e-mailed to several people involved in the case, including prosecutors and his former defense attorney Michael Horn, who confirmed the e-mail to the Post.
“He left a long note, but essentially, he became overwhelmed by the press coverage and the media attention and the rush to vilification,” said Horn. “And he didn’t take care of his mental health, which is obviously something he needed to do, and he became depressed and suicidal.”
The Forest Hills Post reported Horn no longer represented Hirsch at the time of his suicide. According to the New York Times, Hirsch was being represented by attorney Arthur Aidala, whose high-profile clients include Harvey Weinstein and the woman accused of killing elderly vocal coach Barbara Gustern, Lauren Pazienza.
“Glen [sic] Hirsch and I had an excellent relationship, and it saddens me that he took this route when we were very well prepared to fight this in the courtroom,” said Aidala. “He consistently maintained his innocence.”
Sources told the New York Post that Hirsch’s e-mails were “oddly coherent and vast in scope.” Among other things, Hirsch tried to clear the name of his estranged wife, Dorothy Hirsch, 62, who is also charged in connection with Yan’s murder, according to the Post. Dorothy, who lived separately from her husband, was charged with eight counts of criminal possession of a weapon following a June 3 raid of her home.
Hirsch reportedly said in his dying declaration that he’d moved the guns to Dorothy’s closet without her knowledge years before, according to her lawyer, Mark Bederow.
“This is a terrible time for Dorothy,” said Bederow. “This tragedy of her husband’s suicide is amplified by the fact that she was already being subjected to an unwarranted prosecution for guns, which so obviously were Glenn’s.”
According to the Post, Bederow called on Queens County District Attorney Melinda Katz to drop the charges against his client so that she can “grieve this loss without the additional stress of fighting baseless criminal charges.”
Katz has yet to respond to Bederow’s requests but did release a statement concerning Hirsch’s recent suicide, according to the Post.
“The loss of a human life is always tragic. Obviously, we would have preferred to try Mr. Glenn Hirsch for the calculated murder of Mr. Zhiwen Yan in a court of law, but this is no longer an option,” Katz stated. “We once again express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Zhiwen Yan, who continue to grieve his tragic and senseless loss.”
Authorities said Yan’s shooting death in April was the final act of a months-long, one-sided conflict Hirsch instigated with the Great Wall restaurant, which began in late November 2021. Prosecutors said Hirsch became “irate” after receiving food from the Chinese takeout restaurant without his desired amount of duck sauce packets — even after staff catered to his requests for more of the condiment.
Hirsch allegedly went on to stalk employees and vandalize their vehicles in the months following, as detailed by the Queens County District Attorney’s Office. Many of the altercations allegedly included Hirsch making death threats to multiple employees.
On the night of Yan’s murder, prosecutors said Hirsch passed the Great Wall establishment seven times before tailing Yan from the restaurant as he delivered food to a Forest Hills residence unrelated to Hirsch. Prosecutors say Hirsch waited for Yan to finish his delivery before catching him at a red light and shooting Yan as he waited on his scooter at an intersection.
“The tragic end result was the murder of a hard-working employee, who left behind a devastated family and grieving community,” said DA Katz following the grand jury’s indictment.
A warrant was issued for Hirsch’s arrest on June 1. The defendant’s brother posted his $500,000 bail on June 27, much to the concerns of Yan’s family, who expressed “fear” that Hirsch might plot revenge against other Great Wall employees.
Hirsch was ordered to wear an ankle monitor and was subject to house arrest. On Friday, officials reportedly went to Hirsch’s apartment after he failed to show up for court, according to Fox New York City affiliate WNYW.
When police arrived, they could hear his radio while still outside, law enforcement sources told the Post. Hirsch was found dead on his couch, which he allegedly first wrapped with plastic, wearing rubber gloves on his hands and with a gun in his grip.
A printed-out version of the suicide note was found near his feet. It's not clear how he was able to maintain access to a firearm.
Ken Yang, the owner of the Great Wall Restaurant, told the Post that Yan had been like a brother to him, voicing his frustration that Hirsch would never be brought to justice and that he still had access to a gun.
“I wanted [Hirsch] to go to court and for him to say why he killed my brother,” said Yang. “I wanted him to talk, tell everybody why he wanted to kill me and my family, too."
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