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Gas station manager says U.S. flag pole used in Election Day attack

From Megan Miller, CNN
  • A request for ID for a tobacco purchase was the trigger, the station manager says
  • One man shouted, "You aliens get ... out of my country," Erdaogan Yavuz says
  • The pole of the station's American flag was used as a weapon, he says

New York (CNN) -- Two Turkish-American gas station workers on suburban Long Island say they were assaulted and beaten with a flagpole bearing an American flag on the night of Election Day. Five men face charges in the alleged attack, police said Thursday.

The incident began when some teenagers became angry when they were asked to show identification for a tobacco purchase, said Erdaogan Yavuz, the manager of the OK Gas Station in Wantagh, New York, told CNN.

"My father is a cop and he's going to kill all you guys," one of them said, according to Yavuz. The teens, yelling expletives, left only to return a short time later with two older men. All five began to assault Yavuz and his co-worker, Yuksel Cebeci, Yavuz said.

Cebeci was able to get inside the station, but Yavuz said he was beaten badly. One of the older men shouted, "You aliens get ... out of my country!"

"Then he grabbed the [gas station's] flag and hit me in the face with the flagpole, and that's when I grabbed the flag from him to defend myself," said Yavuz, who said he became a naturalized citizen of the United States in March.

When Nassau County police arrived on site, the man attacked one of the officers, according to a spokesman for the 8th precinct in Levittown. The officer was treated at St. Joseph Hospital in Bethpage for lacerations to his right knee and a swollen hand, the spokesman said.

Cebeci was treated for broken fingers, Yavuz said.

All five men were charged with assault but the case will not be prosecuted as a hate crime, said Chris Munzing, the deputy director of communications for Nassau County Police. The men were arraigned on Wednesday, and November court appearances have been set, the district attorney's office said.

The district attorney's office identified the men as Nicholas Lazarus, Christ Makhmaltchi, Gregory Vitale, Richard Vitale Jr. and Richard Vitale Sr.

Attempts to reach the suspects and their attorneys were not immediately successful Thursday afternoon.

A surveillance video from the gas station is in the hands of prosecutors, officials said.