A New York City bodega worker charged with murder after fighting off an ex-con in his store has been freed from jail after his bond was lowered amid a public outcry.
Jose Alba, 62, was released from Rikers Island on Thursday evening and returned to his Hamilton Heights home wearing an electronic monitor and accompanied by one of his sons after his bail was lowered from $250,000 to $50,000.
Alba was arrested on Friday for stabbing Austin Simon, a 35-year-old who charged into the Harlem bodega where he worked and attacked him.
Alba then stabbed Simon in the neck and chest with a box-cutting knife.
He was then thrown in Rikers Island and held on a $250,000 bond after prosecutors from Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s office asked for double that, despite letting other career criminals loose on a regular basis.
Following a resounding outrage over the decision, a Manhattan judge finally lowered Alba’s bond today and he was released to his home.
Jose Alba, 62, was released from Rikers Island on Thursday evening and returned to his home accompanied by one of his sons after his bail was lowered from $250,000 to $50,000
Alba was arrested last week for stabbing Austin Simon, 35, who charged into the Harlem bodega where he worked and attacked him. Alba’s bond was lowered after public outrage
Alba, who is beloved in the local community, has worked at the bodega in Harlem for decades and has no criminal record. He arrived home Thursday wearing a ankle monitor
NYC Mayor Eric Adams today even visited the bodega to express his support for Alba.
‘I’m a person that’s there for people following the law. I saw from the video, I saw a voter here inside the store following the law…It’s time for New Yorkers and Americans to start standing up for people who follow the law,’ he said.
At a hearing on Thursday, prosecutors from Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s office moved to lower Alba’s bond from $250,000 to $50,000. He was only required to post $5,000 – 10 percent – which is feasible for his family.
It is a small victory for the 62-year-old who many say should never have been arrested in the first place.
This was the altercation that led to Jose Alba’s arrest last Friday. Alba, 62, is shown in a blue striped shirt and hat. Austin Simon, right, arrived in the store to confront Alba who had refused to give his girlfriend a bag of potato chips
Alba, who is beloved in the local community, has worked there for decades and has no criminal record.
The attack at the bodega happened when Simon’s girlfriend’s card was declined trying to buy a bag of chips. Her debit card was declined and Alba refused to give her the chips.
She then produced a knife from her purse and, according to Alba’s family, attacked him before calling for her boyfriend for back-up.
Surveillance footage shows Simon charging into the store in a $350 dollar Amiri shirt, standing over Alba and then fighting with him.
Alba grabbed the store’s box cutting knife to stab him in the neck and chest. He later died in the hospital.
Initially, Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s office asked for a $500,000 bond – which the judge last week said was too high. $250,000 was decided upon – which the family couldn’t afford.
They set up a GoFundMe page to help raise bail and pay for his legal team but GoFundMe removed the account after it raised $20,000.
A GoFundMe spokesperson told DailyMail.com: ‘Our terms of service prohibit fundraising for the legal defense of a violent crime.
‘At this time, the fundraiser has been removed and all donors have been refunded.’
Alba was sitting down in the tiny store when the man cornered him and demanded that he apologize to his girlfriend, who police say couldn’t afford a bag of chips
The convenience store where the incident occurred last Friday
On Thursday, Bragg’s office said it reached a deal with the man’s family on the terms of his bail which include him surrendering his passport and wearing an electronic ankle monitor.
The owner of the convenience store where the incident took place has also agreed to be an obligor for him, the DA’s office said.
Alba – who is from the Dominican Republic and became a US citizen 14 years ago – was thrown in Rikers.
The man’s family set up a GoFundMe to help him pay for his legal defense but it was removed overnight after raising $20,000
The page no longer exists on GoFundMe. The fundraising site has not yet explained why
Among those who slammed Bragg for the decision to charge him on Thursday was Republican Gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin.
‘My first Day 1 action as Governor next January will be to fire Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg,’ he said.
Yesterday, a store worker who did not want to be named told DailyMail.com: ”The girlfriend is still out there enjoying her life’.
Regulars at the shop described Alba as a hard-working father who was preparing for retirement, and was looking forward to returning to the Dominican Republic next week to visit his family.
He worked at the store every day of the week from noon to 6am, they told DailyMail.com, to ‘make an honest living.’
But during his more than two years working at the store, several patrons have tried to take advantage of him, grabbing items and trying to walk away with them.
One man even once held up a gun to him, they said.
So when Simon entered the store and starting threatening him last week, he did not know whether he had a gun and could kill him.
‘He never wanted no problem,’ said Ahmad’s son, who was working the counter on Wednesday.
‘I picture him as my grandfather being in that situation.’