Last Updated on September 17, 2022
The owner of an NYC Bodega where Jose Alba was forced to defend himself was robbed and assaulted earlier this week, according to a report from the New York Post. Alba, a former clerk at the Hamilton Heights bodega, fatally stabbed a customer who came behind the counter and attacked him. He was then charged with murder by leftist District Attorney Alvin Bragg and sent to the infamous Rikers Island. Charges against Jose Alba were eventually dropped after the case generated significant outrage.
The latest attack on the Blue Moon convenience store in Hamilton Heights unfolded around 6:30 p.m. Aug. 19 while owner Osamah Aldhabyani, 33, was working a 12-hour shift. A criminal complaint filed against the accused robber, 19-year-old Ariel Hernandez, claims he knocked Aldhabyani to the ground before tightly wrapping his arm around the owner’s neck.
“The guy came in the store and started scaring the customers,” Aldhabyani said of Hernandez. “He grabbed two Monsters [energy drinks] and left. I thought that was the end of it, but he came back three minutes later.”
Hernandez then told the owner that he had a “real problem” with him before going behind the counter. Once there, he demanded money and packs of Black & Milds — a brand of cigarillos commonly used to roll blunts.
“I told him to leave me alone because I didn’t want any problems,” Aldhabyani said. “He started tossing things behind the counter and … after I pushed him outside, we started fighting. I put him on the floor and held him there until the police came.”
A criminal complaint filed against Hernandez alleges that he “knocked [Aldhabyani] to the ground and wrapped his arm around [Aldhabyani’s] neck, causing substantial pain to [his] head and back.”
At an arraignment hearing the next day, Hernandez pleaded not guilty to second-degree robbery, third-degree burglary and petit larceny, the New York Post reported. After the arraignment, prosecutors released Hernandez on his own recognizance (no bail). D.A. Bragg’s office could have held the accused attacker on bail, though they opted not to.
“The facts uncovered thus far in this ongoing investigation, including that the defendant has no prior convictions, do not justify seeking bail and potential detention on Rikers Island as the least restrictive means to ensure his return to court,” Bragg spokesman Doug Cohen told the New York Post.
Bragg’s soft treatment of the accused robber constitutes a radically different path than the one chosen by his office in the Jose Alba case.
Alba, 61, 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. At that point, the bodega clerk grabbed a knife and stabbed Simon in the chest five times, killing him.
The altercation — which was captured by store surveillance cameras — started after Simon’s girlfriend demanded that Alba let her take items without paying.
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Alba then waited for police to arrive, but when they did, they arrested him. Manhattan prosecutors later charged him with second-degree murder and initially held him on $500,000 bail. While the case was pending, Alba was held at the infamous Riker’s Island detention facility.
Charges against the clerk were later dropped after significant public outcry, but the ordeal proved too much for the 61-year-old to handle. Alba, who became a U.S. citizen 14 years ago, opted to move back to the Dominican Republic while dealing with the trauma stemming from the incident.
He had lived and worked in New York City for over 30 years before the incident.