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Family defends man killed while apparently attacking Harlem bodega worker: ‘He’s not a monster’

·2 min read

The family of a man who was stabbed to death after attacking a worker at a Harlem bodega insist he is “not a monster”.

Austin Simon, 35, was killed after an argument with Jose Alba that began over a bag of chips turned violent.

The stabbing on 1 July was caught on the the Bluemoon Convenient Store’s surveillance cameras and Mr Alba, 61, has been charged with second-degree murder.

Mr Alba’s family say he acted in self-defence and his arrest has sparked outrage from the public and New York City Mayor Eric Adams who called him a “hard-working, innocent New Yorker”.

Mr Simon’s ex-wife told the New York Daily News that footage of the incident, which has gone viral, was misleading.

“Everyone is judging him on a clip of video,” the former wife, who wanted to be known only by her first name Tiana, told the Daily News.

“He’s not the monster that they’re trying to make him seem like.”

She added that Mr Austin was a devoted family man and father to his nine children.

According to a criminal charging document, Mr Simon’s girlfriend and her young daughter entered the Harlem bodega where Mr Alba has worked for decades at 11pm on 1 July.

The girlfriend, who has not been publicly named, wanted to buy a bag of chips for her daughter but she didn’t have enough money to pay for them, said police.

The footage shows the girlfriend run out of the store to get her boyfriend. Mr Simon is seen entering the space behind the counter where Mr Alba is serving customers.

He confronts Mr Alba and violently shoves the 62-year-old against the shelves.

Mr Alba falls back and lands in a chair by the wall.

Mr Simon continues to square up in the shop worker’s face shouting at him the person in front of the counter.

Austin Simon is seen shoving bodega worker Jose Alba at the start of the altercation (Bluemoon convenience store)
Austin Simon is seen shoving bodega worker Jose Alba at the start of the altercation (Bluemoon convenience store)

He then grabs Mr Alba by the back of his shirt and pulls him up out of his chair out of the counter area.

At that point, the bodega worker grabs a knife from some shelves and begins to stab Mr Simon.

Mr Simon’s girlfriend also produced a knife and stabbed Mr Alba in the arm, police said.

Mr Simon was rushed to hospital where he died from his injuries.

Mr Alba was arrested on the scene and was charged with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon.

He posted bond on Thursday after his bail was decreased from $250,000 to $50,000.

Mr Adams weighed in this week to back Mr Alba, saying that he saw a “New Yorker doing his job” on the video.

Mr Austin’s wife told The Daily News she disagreed, and that Mr Alba had unnecessarily escalated the confrontation by pulling a knife.

“He stabbed him multiple times. That was overkill.”