Brooklyn man dies after being viciously pummeled over recycling can money: ‘It was two cans!’
A 60-year-old Brooklyn man punched out in a clash over recyclable cans died four days later — and the attacker, charged with manslaughter, said he’d hoped the victim died, according to police and court papers.
The vicious beating started after the men encountered each other the morning of Dec. 4 near an Associated Supermarket on Hegeman Ave. near Rockaway Ave. in Brownsville, according to police and witnesses.
Arthur Fleschner was allegedly punched numerous times by Danny Quiles during the clash near the beverage recycling machines at the supermarket.
Fleschner’s sister Mary Nielsen was stunned at the news. She hadn’t seen her sibling for 20 years, but said she often worried about him living where he did in Brooklyn.
“He was very good. He was very smart,” Nielsen, of Vero Beach, Fla., told the Daily News. “He knew things — oh, he was good at electronics. He would take cars apart and put them back together.
“I don’t know what to say,” she added.
Fleschner and Quiles met years ago while living at The Hegeman, a nearby supportive housing facility for formerly homeless single men.
Each man often collected cans in the neighborhood and brought them to the supermarket to exchange them for cash, according to locals.
A person at the scene who saw surveillance video of the attack said Quiles calmly walked toward Fleschner, put down two bags of cans he was carrying and “grabbed [Fleschner] by the collar and punch him four times.”
“Fleschner was a very nice guy, not violent,” added the individual, who did not want their name published. “It’s very sad. What I heard is it was over two cans — two cans!”
Fleschner used to sweep the area in exchange for free food, a supermarket worker said. Quiles, meanwhile, “loved to argue with people,” even elderly women, according to a friend of the victim.
After Fleschner collapsed in the street, Quiles, 52, dragged him onto the sidewalk and ran off, cops said.
But before he did, Quiles ran into a nearby store and told an employee he’d punched the victim, the worker told The News.
“I was angry at him,” the worker remembered Quiles telling him.
“The guy who killed him, he told me that he think he take the bottles,” the employee added.
Medics rushed the victim with facial fractures and bleeding on the brain to Brookdale University Hospital, where he died Thursday.
“Freaking 5-cent cans. Now you’re doing life! For what? For two dollars of cans?!” said the victim’s friend.
Quiles was nabbed the day after Fleschner died and charged him with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and assault. He was ordered held on $300,000 bail after being arraigned in Brooklyn Criminal Court.
Quiles confessed, according to the criminal complaint, which noted that after the attack, he said he hoped Fleschner would die. His lawyer had no comment Monday.
Police said the attacker has prior arrests, as did Fleschner, who was due back in court Dec. 30 for a case in which he was charged with menacing with a weapon.
Fleschner’s friend said he used to work as a mechanic and has lived in the area about a decade, having left Staten Island when his parents died. Fleschner went into an emotional tailspin after that, lost his house and sought solace in alcohol, according to the friend.
John Hernandez, an Associated worker, said the victim was “so nice” — not someone you’d expect to be attacked in the street.
“He would sweep,” Hernandez said. “He did it out of his own will, his heart, and we would give him drink or some food. He was always charismatic. Physically, he was an old man. But as a human being, he always had energy. And he had a good smile.”
With John Annese
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