As Brooklynite Bobby Jordan mourned Cemal Dagdeviren, he said he hoped the person responsible for running over and killing the manager of the Pit Stop gas station in South Hempstead on Jan. 14 would be locked up for a long time.
“I want him to suffer in prison for the rest of his life,” said Jordan, a cook at the KFC on Grand Avenue in Baldwin, who often had his cars repaired at the Pit Stop. “I don’t wish death upon him … but I do think he should remain behind bars until he dies.”
According to Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, the Baldwin man who is accused of running over Dagdeviren over a $22 gasoline bill, Joshua Roston, faces 25 years to life in prison. Roston was charged with the intentional murder of Dagdeviren and additional time for fleeing the scene — a crime that itself carries a sentence of up to 30 years.
Roston, a 33-year-old homeless man whose most recent address was in Baldwin, turned himself in to Philadelphia police on Jan. 17 after Nassau County Police Department officials said he fatally struck Dagdeviren, of Levittown, with his SUV when he attempted to drive off without paying his gas bill.
According to police, Dagdeviren jumped in front of Roston’s vehicle to stop him from leaving the gas station on the Baldwin-South Hempstead border.
Dagdeviren died hours later at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, and was flown to his native Turkey, where he was buried. As the Herald went to press, Roston was still in Philadelphia, awaiting extradition to Nassau County.
NCPD Commissioner Patrick Ryder said that Roston fled to Philadelphia, where he had family and friends, following the incident, but turned himself in once his name and mugshot from a prior arrest were released on television. “He realized, ‘I got to turn myself in,’” Ryder said. “He felt the pressure.”
The NCPD released surveillance video of Roston’s vehicle and face shortly after the fatal hit-and-run, which led to multiple tips. Those tips, Ryder said, enabled police to locate Roston’s vehicle in Philadelphia and later identify him as the suspect. When his name and photo were made public on Jan. 17, more than two dozen tips were called in to the NCPD. Roston turned himself in to Philadelphia police hours later.
“He felt the pressure and he turned himself in, and he will pay for this heinous crime of killing a family man and an immigrant who was beloved by the community,” said County Executive Laura Curran, a Baldwinite who frequently used the Pit Stop station.
Ryder said the arrest was of little comfort to those who loved Dagdeviren. “It’s kind of a shallow victory in the fact that there’s still a man and a family that’s been destroyed over $22,” he said.
This was not the first time Roston allegedly fled from a gas station without paying for fuel. He was arrested in April 2018 and charged with stealing $30 in gasoline. His most recent arrest was on Jan. 11, when he was charged with stealing a pair of work boots from a Sears store.
Dagdeviren, 59, was beloved by many in Baldwin, South Hempstead, Rockville Centre and Roosevelt — hundreds attended a candlelit vigil in his honor the day after he was killed. “They took a heartbeat away from this community,” Patrick Keating, a Baldwin Harbor resident, said. “I am absolutely disgusted.”
Members of the Baldwin and South Hempstead fire departments attended the vigil. Dagdeviren’s son, Ceyhun, is a member of the Bethpage Fire Department and is training to become a New York City firefighter. “We’re here to support the community,” Peter Ortiz, the Baldwin Fire Department chief, said. “It’s just sad what happened.”
Pit Stop customers described Dagdeviren as an honest, decent human being. “He would say, ‘Go have a cup of coffee, no need to pay,’” Jordan recalled. “He was always nice to me and my wife.”
Keating remembered Dagdeviren as one of the nicest people whom he has met. “Not just a great mechanic, but a great person and a great friend,” he said. “I’m really going to miss him.”