Teen pleads not guilty in fiery gas station crash
A teen is accused of intentionally striking a person with his car at a Wyandanch gas station, then crashing into a gas pump, igniting a fire.
Authorities say Maleek Ward, 18, of Wyandanch, was taken into custody Saturday evening.
Officers who were on a routine patrol say they spotted Ward and several other people sitting in a car on Pine Street in Wyandanch. One occupant of the car was smoking marijuana, police say.
Ward was found with a loaded 9mm handgun on him, according to police. He was taken into custody and charged with criminal possession of a weapon and unlawful marijuana possession.
Police say an investigation later determined that Ward was responsible for the New Year's Day incident at the BP gas station on Straight Path. They say he intentionally struck a man with a 2012 Toyota RAV4 following a dispute. The car then smashed into a gas pump and ignited a fire that damaged part of the gas station building.
For that incident, Ward is charged with assault and criminal mischief.
Investigators had said that shell casings were found near the scene of the gas station incident, but it remains unclear if they were connected to the case.
The person who was struck by the RAV4 at the gas station has not been identified and the extent of any possible injuries is unclear.
Ward pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in First District Court in Central Islip Monday.
Ward's lawyer claims his client was the one being attacked, and that he was trying to flee for his life, not run someone over. The attorney says two people smashed Ward's windshield with a bottle and opened his car door, and he hit the pump during his an attempt to flee.
Ward was ordered held on $85,000 bond.
Three other people who were found in the car with Ward were arrested. Two were charged with possession of marijuana, and one was arrested on an outstanding warrant, police say.