Last Updated on July 7, 2022
An NYC bodega clerk has been charged with murder after fatally stabbing a customer who stormed behind the counter and attacked him. The case has sparked outrage, as surveillance footage appears to confirm that the Bodega clerk acted in self-defense.
Jose Alba, 51, was working at the Hamilton Heights Grocery store when Austin Simon, a 35-year-old career criminal, charged behind the counter and threw him against the wall. Simon then grabbed the clerk while Alba attempted to get away from him. The bodega clerk then grabbed a knife and stabbed Simon in the chest five times, killing him.
Simon’s girlfriend then pulls a knife from her purse and stabs Alba three times in the shoulder.
Simon was sent into the store by his girlfriend, who did not have enough cash to pay for a bag of chips. After being told that she could not have the item without payment, she became enraged and began fighting with Alba.
The entire interaction was captured by the store’s surveillance camera.
Manhattan bodega worker charged with murder. Woman who didn't have enough money for her item, went to the car to get her boyfriend, who then came behind the counter to attack the clerk.. Jose Alba, 51, cut the man up, and is being charged with murder. Held on $250,000 bail. #NYC pic.twitter.com/kZ3Ju5yVDq
— YouDontHaveToWatch (@StarsAndBars123) July 6, 2022
Alba then waited for police to arrive, but when they did, they arrested him.
Despite the CCTV footage, Manhattan prosecutors have charged Alba with second-degree murder. They have not filed charges against Simon’s girlfriend for stabbing the bodega clerk, however.
Prosecutors with District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office initially sought bail of $500,000, but a Manhattan judge lowered that to $50,000. Prosecutors cited a planned trip to the Dominican Republic to prove that Alba was a flight risk, though they agreed to the reduced amount after the clerk agreed to surrender his passport and submit to electronic monitoring.
Alba’s friends and family raised the amount required to free him from Riker’s Island, but not before GoFundMe shut down a fundraiser for the bodega clerk’s defense. He will be required to wear an ankle monitor and must remain within the boroughs while the case is pending. The 51-year-old is due back in court on July 20.
Critics have called for DA Bragg — who has garnered a reputation as a soft-on-crime DA — to resign from his post over the charges. “It’s ridiculous,” Guardian Angels founder and former mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa said outside the courtroom on Thursday. “Jose Alba should be getting a Congressional Medal of Honor,” Sliwa said. “Instead, he’s locked up on Rikers and this is all Alvin Bragg. He turns loose real criminals and he incarcerates victims who fight back. What kind of a message is this?
“That’s why I’m here today with the Guardian Angels to make sure that Jose Alba is released, not put back on Rikers Island,” Silwa continued.
Mayor Eric Adams has described Jose Alba as a “hard-working New Yorker who was doing his job.”
“My heart goes out to the employee who was in the store doing this job,” Adams said. “And so I am hoping that we take all of that into consideration, as this hard-working New Yorker was doing his job and someone aggressively went behind the counter to attack him.”
Police charged Jose Alba with murder and criminal possession of a weapon, while prosecutors tacked on murder charges in court.
Alba’s lawyer and his children said the native of the Dominican Republic came to the US about 30 years ago and became a citizen 14 years ago, according to The New York Post. “He’s a hard-working person,” his daughter, Yulissa Alba, 34, told The Post Wednesday. “He’s never hurt anybody. He’s never had an altercation where he had to defend himself.”