The heartbroken sister of a Brooklyn man run down with his own BMW in a bizarre hit-and-run recalled her slain sibling Saturday as a devoted dad murdered over a minor fender-bender.
“It was a terrible tragedy for nothing,” said sister Zoila Ortega, 63, to the Daily News about the gruesome Queens road rage murder of her younger brother. “The big question is why did the guy do it? It makes no sense. For what?”
The mourning sister recalled Francis Ortega, 50, as a well-liked man whose funeral following the horrific Oct. 20 incident drew hundreds of mourners. The veteran clothing company owner was survived by two sons, ages 26 and 21, and a 9-year-old daughter, with the boys working alongside him in the family business.
“He was just a beautiful person all around,” said Zoila Ortega. “He touched a lot of lives. He was known to help everyone. He was just a wonderful person, a great father.”
Francis Ortega was attacked on a Queens street after accidentally rear-ending a double-parked Nissan Altima, with the three men inside quickly exiting the vehicle to inflict a savage beatdown that left the helpless victim lying on the ground outside his 2012 BMW, police said.
Suspect Zahir Williams, 24, then jumped inside the luxury car, slamming its door repeatedly into Ortega’s body before an accomplice pulled the victim out of the way, police said.
With all three inside the stolen vehicle, Williams drove around the block in Astoria and returned to run the battered Ortega down with the BMW before ditching the car and fleeing the scene, with the victim pronounced dead at Elmhurst Hospital, police said.
The two other suspects in the killing remained on the loose three weeks later.
“They don’t know how many lives they destroyed,” said the sister. “They left a very big empty spot inside of us. Francis was the type of person, if you met him you would love him. He was a good person all around … He built himself as a business owner.”
The victim lived about seven miles from the scene of his death, and it was initially thought he was struck while crossing the street until a review of surveillance video recovered from the scene revealed exactly what happened, police said. Cops were then able to use the video to help track down Williams.
“He put them on the right path,” said the sister. “They went to college. His priority was his kids, he loved his kids. He loved being around his kids.”
Ortega said she last saw her brother on the day of his death, when he went out to the store to buy some items for his hookah pipe.
“He said, ‘Sister, I will be right back,'” she recounted. “It was regular, he would go and come right back. The kids are devastated by all this … Everything was fine. He was working hard and teaching his kids to do the right thing.”
Williams was arrested Thursday on charges of murder, gang assault, vehicular assault and unauthorized use of a vehicle. He was held without bail one day later during a brief Queens Criminal Court arraignment where dozens of the victim’s family and friends turned out.
“It was just cruel,” said the victim’s older sister, who attended the hearing. “Such a cruel, cruel thing to do … I just couldn’t look at the guy.”