New York bodega worker, 62, charged with murder released after public outcry

A New York bodega worker charged with murder after fighting an ex-con at his store has been released from jail after his bond was lowered amid public outcry.

Jose Alba, 62, was released from Rikers Island Thursday night after his bond was lowered from $250,000 to $50,000, and returned to his Hamilton Heights home wearing an electronic monitor and accompanied by one of his sons.

Alba was arrested on Friday for allegedly stabbing Austin Simon after the 35-year-old was charged at the Harlem bodega where he worked and attacked him.

Alba was then thrown in jail and held on $250,000 bail after prosecutors at Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s office asked for double that, despite regularly letting other career criminals go free.

Following resounding outrage over the decision, a Manhattan judge finally lowered Alba’s bail today and he was released home.

Jose Alba, 62, was released from Rikers Island on Thursday evening and returned home with one of his sons after his bond was lowered from $250,000 to $50,000.

Alba was arrested last week for allegedly stabbing Austin Simon, 35, who charged into the Harlem bodega where he worked and attacked him.  Alba's bail was lowered after public outrage

Alba was arrested last week for allegedly stabbing Austin Simon, 35, who charged into the Harlem bodega where he worked and attacked him. Alba’s bail was lowered after public outrage

Alba, who is beloved in the local community, has worked at the Harlem bodega for decades and has no criminal record.  He arrived home on Thursday with an ankle monitor

Alba, who is beloved in the local community, has worked at the Harlem bodega for decades and has no criminal record. He arrived home on Thursday with an ankle monitor

Earlier Thursday, New York City Mayor Eric Adams visited the bodega to express his support for Alba.

“I am a person who is there for people who respect the law. I saw on 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,’ a- he declared.

In a hearing on Thursday, prosecutors with Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s office decided to lower Alba’s bail from $250,000 to $50,000. He was only required to post $5,000 – 10% – which was paid by his family and boss.

Alba is not allowed to leave New York and had to surrender his passport, which means he will not be able to make a planned trip to the Dominican Republic.

But Alba’s release is a small victory for the 62-year-old who many believe should never have been arrested in the first place.

It was the altercation that led to Jose Alba's arrest last Friday.  Alba, 62, wears 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 crisps

It was the altercation that led to Jose Alba’s arrest last Friday. Alba, 62, wears 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 crisps

Alba, who is loved by the local community, has worked there for decades and has no criminal record.

The bodega attack happened when Simon’s girlfriend’s card was declined while trying to buy a bag of crisps. His debit card was declined and Alba refused to give him the tokens.

She then pulled a knife from her purse and, according to Alba’s family, attacked him before calling her boyfriend for backup.

Surveillance footage shows Simon charging into the store in a $350 Amiri shirt, standing over Alba and then fighting with him.

Alba grabbed the store’s carving knife to stab him in the neck and chest. He later died in hospital.

Initially, Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s office requested bail of $500,000 – which the judge said last week was too high. $250,000 was decided – which the family could not afford.

They created a GoFundMe page to help raise bail and pay his legal team, but GoFundMe deleted the account after raising $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, fundraising has been canceled and all donors have been refunded.”

Alba was sitting in the small shop when the man cornered him and asked him to apologize to his girlfriend, who police say couldn't afford a bag of crisps

Alba was sitting in the small shop when the man cornered him and asked him to apologize to his girlfriend, who police say couldn’t afford a bag of crisps

The convenience store where the incident occurred last Friday

The convenience store where the incident occurred last Friday

On Thursday, Bragg’s office said it had reached an agreement with the man’s family on bail conditions, which require him to surrender his passport and wear an electronic ankle monitor.

The owner of the convenience store where the incident took place also agreed to be a debtor for him, the prosecutor’s office said.

Alba – who hails from the Dominican Republic and became a US citizen 14 years ago – was cast at Rikers.

The man's family set up a GoFundMe to help pay for his legal defense, but it was taken down overnight after raising $20,000.

The man’s family set up a GoFundMe to help pay for his legal defense, but it was taken down overnight after raising $20,000.

The page no longer exists on GoFundMe.  The fundraising site has not yet explained why

The page no longer exists on GoFundMe. The fundraising site has not yet explained why

Among those who criticized Bragg for the decision to indict him on Thursday was Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin.

“My first action from Day 1 as governor next January will be to fire Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg,” he said.

A shop worker who did not want to be named told DailyMail.com yesterday: ‘The girlfriend is still enjoying her life.

Regulars at the store described Alba as a hard-working father preparing for retirement and looking forward to returning to the Dominican Republic next week to visit family.

He worked at the store every weekday from noon to 6 a.m., they told DailyMail.com, to “earn an honest living”.

But in his more than two years working at the store, several customers have tried to take advantage of him, grabbing items and trying to walk away with them.

A man even once brandished a gun at him, 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 any trouble,” said Ahmad’s son, who worked the counter on Wednesday.

“I imagine him like my grandfather being in that situation.”

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