A New York City bodega worker has been charged with second-degree murder for allegedly stabbing and killing a man in self-defense after he was attacked while working inside the store.
Jose Alba, a 51-year-old father of three from the Dominican Republic, was working behind the counter of the bodega store in Manhattan on Friday night when 35-year-old Austin Simon stormed behind the counter and confronted him following a dispute with his girlfriend, according to the New York Post.
Video footage of the incident captured on CCTV shows Simon approaching Alba as he is working behind the counter of the store and pushing the clerk.
Simon then stands over him as Alba falls down onto a nearby chair before Simon pulls the store worker up from the seat by his shirt and moves him to another spot behind the counter.
From here, Alba is able to grab a knife placed behind the counter, and the store worker can be seen plunging the knife into Simon as the pair jostle with one another.
The video then cuts to Alba standing behind the counter with the knife in his hand as he checks what appears to be a wound on his arm, which is covered in blood.
Simon was stabbed five times and was later pronounced dead, according to reports.
A criminal complaint obtained by Fox News states that Simon’s girlfriend and her daughter entered the store on Broadway near W. 139th St. and had gone to purchase a snack—a bag of chips—with a benefits card but the transaction was declined.
This prompted a “verbal dispute” and Alba reached over the counter and grabbed the girl’s hand to pull the bag of chips away, according to the criminal complaint.
“Informant observed the defendant reach over the counter, grab her daughter’s hand, and seize the item from her daughter’s hand after the transaction was declined,” the complaint read. “Informant then left the store and informed her boyfriend, Austin Simon, of the clerk’s actions, and returned to the store with Mr. Simon, who went behind the counter of the store to confront the clerk.”
The complaint noted that investigators reviewing the CCTV footage had said that Simon “pushed the defendant once and spoke to him while the defendant sat in a chair behind the counter.”
When Simon tried to “steer” Alba out from behind the counter area, the store worker “picked up a kitchen knife that was stashed behind the counter and stabbed Mr. Simon in the neck and chest at least five times,” the complaint states.
Investigators said in the complaint that Simon’s girlfriend attempted to pull Alba away from Simon but that he “continued to stab” him before she herself stabbed the deli worker in the arm with a knife, although it is unclear if it is the same knife used by Alba.
Alba’s attorney told The New York Post that Simon’s girlfriend allegedly pulled a knife from her purse and stabbed Alba three times in the shoulder and hand.
“The defendant stated to me, in substance, ‘He wanted me to come apologize to the girl. I took the knife we use to open boxes and I stabbed him,’” the complaint added.
Simon was already on parole for assaulting a police officer at the time of the deadly encounter and had previously been arrested at least eight times including for assault, robbery, and assault during a domestic dispute, The New York Post reported, citing sources and records.
Alba was arraigned Saturday on a second-degree murder charge and held on $250,000 cash or $500,000 bond, according to reports, but that was lowered to $50,000 on Thursday.
He had been held at Rikers Island but is now back home, albeit wearing an electronic monitor, after his family and boss posted his $50,000 bail bond.
During the bail hearing, prosecutors argued Alba is a flight risk as he had previously planned a trip back to the Dominican Republic which was scheduled for next week, according to the New York Post.
If convicted, Alba faces 25 years behind bars, while Simon’s girlfriend is currently facing no charges.
The latest incident comes as Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, has faced criticism for a number of his criminal policies and his “soft on crime” approach, which has seen him stop pursuing prison sentences for many criminal cases and downgrade charges for some crimes, although he later backtracked on parts of those policies.
Earlier this month, a group of Republican lawmakers in New York introduced a constitutional amendment that would establish a process through which electors can remove district attorneys from office if they lose the public’s trust by putting “criminal interests before law-abiding citizens.”
A spokesperson for Bragg’s office said: “We are continuing to review the evidence and the investigation is ongoing.”
The Epoch Times has contacted Bragg’s office for further comment.