Who is Jose Alba? Bodega clerk charged with MURDER after stabbing ex-con in 'self defense'

Who is Jose Alba? Bodega clerk charged with MURDER after stabbing ex-con in 'self defense'
Austin Simon (pictured in white t-shirt) can be seen rushing behind the counter to confront Jose Alba about the price of some snacks (@Vegz05/Twitter)

MANHATTAN, NEW YORK: Jose Alba, a Bodega clerk, was seen grabbing a knife after an altercation with one of his customers. He eventually stabbed the man to death and is now behind bars at the Rikers Island jail, charged with second-degree murder. Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Eric Schumacher set his bail at $250,000 cash or a $500,000 bond.

The gruesome incident, which took place on Friday, July 1, was caught on a surveillance tape in which the customer, Austin Simon, 34, can be seen rushing behind the counter to confront Alba about the price of some snacks. The situation soon boils up and Austin pushes Alba, turning the quarrel physical. Soon, Alba grabs a knife and starts attacking Austin.

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Alba's family, however, spoke to The New York Post on Wednesday, July 6, about how Alba acted purely out of self-defense and has never attacked someone let alone so viciously. Alba’s daughter Yulissa said, "It was either him or the guy at the moment. He’s never hurt anybody. He’s never had an altercation where he had to defend himself. This is the first time for him." His 27-year-old son Jeffrey said, "He’s not used to this behavior. He’s not used to this type of aggression. At the moment he was in fear for his life. He’s never been locked up, he’s never been in trouble. I’m 100 percent sure he’s regretting it, but at that moment I think he just blanked out and went into self-defense mode."

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Austin, on the other hand, was already on parole for assaulting a police officer after a deadly encounter. Moreover, he already had 8 prior busts, including for assault, robbery, and assault during a domestic dispute. 

Warning: Graphic Content Ahead

The family's comments support the footage that shows Austin pushing Alba into the wall, and continuing to stand over him viciously. The 51-year-old worker at Hamilton Heights Grocery on Broadway and West 139th Street could face up to 15 to 20 years in prison if convicted of second-degree murder. Alba’s attorney Michelle Villasenor-Grant said at his arraignment Saturday that Austin's girlfriend stabbed Alba in the shoulder as well. He said, "It would not be that surprising that someone thinks that harm is going to come to them or that they are going to be robbed, particularly if the woman that you just got into a verbal argument with is also with this person, and ended up taking her own knife out of a purse and stabbing my client." One user shared the video on Twitter saying, "Horrendous video shows NYC bodega worker Jose Alba allegedly stabbing customer Austin Simon to death Police said the unidentified woman didn’t have enough cash for the snack and instead stormed out of the store — and summoned Simon."

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Who is Jose Alba?

Alba, 51 years old, came to the US from the Dominican Republic almost 30 years ago and became a US citizen 14 years ago. His family called Alba "a good citizen" after the incident occurred. Alba apparently had an argument with Austin's girlfriend whose EBT debit card was declined as she tried to buy a bag of chips for her 10-year-old daughter. The woman claimed that Alba snatched the bag of chips away and she ran home to get Austin, who rushed behind the counter and attacked Alba less than 10 minutes into the conversation. 

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Jose Alba was attacked by ex-con Austin Simon first, and the family claims he acted out of self-defense (Vegz05/Twitter)

Alba's defense attorney also claims that Austin's girlfriend stabbed Alba in the shoulder with a knife she had in her purse. However, she is still free while Alba could very well spend two decades behind bars if convicted. The bail and bond were set at $250,000 (cash) and $500,000 respectively as the judge considered Alba to be a flight risk after the prosecutors explained that he had planned a trip back to the Dominican Republic for next week. The prosecutors will present the case to a grand jury for an indictment on Thursday, July 7. Alba's daughter has started a GoFundMe page and collected over $20,000 to cover his legal expenses.

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