There is mounting anger over Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s decision to charge a 51-year-old bodega employee with murder for killing a career criminal in self-defense after the thug assaulted him in his store.
Jose Alba, 51, is in Rikers Island this morning awaiting his first appearance in court on a charge of murder.
His bail is set at $250,000 – an exorbitant amount compared to the low or no cash bail routinely given to repeat offenders by Bragg’s soft-touch office.
On Friday night, Alba Austin stabbed Simon to death after Simon assaulted him at the Bluemoon convenience store in Harlem.
Loved by the local community, Alba has worked there for decades and has no criminal record.
His family launched a GoFundMe page to pay for his legal fees, but the page was taken down Wednesday night after they raised $20,000. GoFundMe has yet to explain the decision.
On Thursday, DA Bragg’s officer is expected to present the case to a grand jury. He asked the judge to set Alba’s bail at $500,000 – which the judge thought was too high.
This was the altercation that led to Jose Alba’s arrest last Friday. Alba, 51, is shown in a blue striped shirt and hat. Austin Simon, right, arrived at the store to confront Alba who had refused to give his girlfriend a bag of chips
There is growing anger over the persecution of bodega worker Alba by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg and his office
The altercation started at the store Friday night when Simon’s girlfriend, who has not been named, tried to buy her daughter a bag of chips.
Her debit card was declined when she tried to make the purchase and Alba insisted that she return the chips.
According to the police, the woman then took her own knife from her handbag. A scuffle ensued and she ran out of the store to call for Simon for help.
Simon was on parole for assaulting a police officer at the time of the Friday night incident.
State records show he spent time at both Elmira and Five Points, two New York correction facilities.
DA Alvin Bragg’s office has not commented on the decision to sue Alba.
There is growing outrage at the decision among the community in Harlem where Alba lives, and online among strangers.
Simon’s girlfriend, who allegedly pulled out a knife and stabbed him in the arm, has not been charged.
The man’s family set up a GoFundMe to help him pay for his legal defense, but it was deleted overnight after he raised $20,000
The page no longer exists on GoFundMe. The fundraising site has not yet explained why
Yesterday, a store employee who declined to be named told DailyMail.com: “The friend is still enjoying her life.”
Regulars at the store described Alba as a hardworking father preparing for retirement and looking forward to returning to the Dominican Republic next week to visit his family.
He worked in the store every day of the week from noon to 6:00 am, they told DailyMail.com, to “earn an honest living.”
But during his more than two years working at the store, several customers have tried to take advantage of him, grab items and run away with them.
One man even held out a gun to him once, they said.
So when Simon walked into the store and started threatening him last week, he didn’t know if he had a gun and could kill him.
“He never wanted to have any problems,” said Ahmad’s son, who worked at the desk on Wednesday.
“I imagine him as my grandfather in that situation.”
The Bluemoon Convenience Store in Harlem, where the incident took place on Friday
The police were on the scene last Friday. Alba stabbed the man several times in the neck and chest with a knife the store employees use to open boxes
Scattered chips were left on the floor of the store after the scuffle that ended in Simon’s death
Alba was working in the small shop when Simon walked in and demanded he apologize to his girlfriend for not giving her a bag of chips after her card was declined
Residents also told DailyMail.com that Simon was a known gang member and often said he was in a gang.
Data obtained by DailyMail.com shows that he has been incarcerated several times – most recently in 2020, for assault and attempted assault.
He was then released from prison in May 2021.
“We want justice, we don’t want trouble,” store workers said.
A regular at the bodega claims that if Alba is not released, “We have no law here in this town.”
Danny Alba wrote on the fundraising page: “It is with great sadness that I have to ask for help for the great injustice that is taking place in my hometown of Harlem, with my own father anyway.
“It pains me to know that a man can’t defend himself without looking like a villain.”
She described her father as “a loving man who always puts his family first, while also caring for children and those in a bad position in life who have no other form of guidance.”
She added: ‘It is really disgusting how they are trying to keep my father in prison for protecting himself from a person who attacked him physically and verbally before taking any action to protect his own life.
“If there’s still justice in the justice system, please let it work here, where I was born and raised, Harlem.”
GoFundMe did not immediately respond to questions about why the page was removed.