A clerk at a Bronx bodega who was charged with second-degree murder as he was fending off an attack from a violent ex-convict appeared to have been trying to diffuse the situation before it escalated.
Jose Alba, 61, was seen stabbing 35-year-old Austin Simon after Simon went behind the counter and pushed the clerk into a wall. Alba is seen sitting against the wall as Simon berates him and makes menacing gestures toward him.
Moments later, Alba tries to move away from the wall before Simon appears to grab him. Abla is seen producing a knife before stabbing Simon several times, killing him.
Officials told local media that the incident occurred when Simon’s girlfriend tried to pay for a bag of chips, but her card was declined. Police sources have told the New York Post that the woman also allegedly stabbed Alba at one point, although no official has publicly gone on the record to confirm that detail.
In an earlier clip that was released to the New York Post, Alba is heard saying: “Papa, I don’t want a problem” to Simon, who is clearly much taller and younger than Alba.
And before that, the woman is heard cursing at Alba after her card was declined. She was heard telling the clerk: “I’m gonna bring my [expletive] down here and he gonna [expletive] you up. My [expletive] is gonna come down here right now and [expletive] you up!”
Alba responds with, “That’s not my fault, it’s not working.”
Later, Simon is seen approaching him, “What’s up with you? [Expletive] what is wrong with you?”
Alba was charged with second-degree murder and ordered held on $250,000 bail until prosecutors allowed him to be freed on $50,000 bail. He was also held in New York City’s notorious Rikers Island facility.
The incident sparked a citywide outcry, namely from other bodega owners around New York City, who said that Alba was defending himself when he stabbed Simon.
“Mr. Alba was clearly defending himself from a younger & stronger man who assaulted him,” wrote United Bodegas of America President Radhames Rodriguez in a statement. “There was no time for Mr. Alba to think when his life was in danger. The video tapes clearly show who the aggressor was in this case. Austin Simon went behind the counter to beat Jose Alba and possibly kill him, Jose simply defended himself with whatever he could get his hands on.”
Another spokesperson for the association called on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who received hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from groups tied to billionaire George Soros for his campaign last year, to drop the charges.
“The Alba family does not have the money for a defense attorney, and it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars to pursue murder charges against a hard working man with no known criminal record. We are hopeful that DA Braggs will listen and understand UBA’s plea to drop all charges,” said Fernando Mateo, spokesperson for the United Bodegas of America, according to NBC4.
According to court records cited by local media, Simon had a slew of prior arrests, including for assault and robbery. He also served time in a New York state prison after he was convicted of assaulting an officer in 2016.