Bronx smoke shop worker charged with fatally stabbing homeless man in dispute outside store

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A Bronx smoke shop worker fatally stabbed a homeless man who violently argued with the 78-year-old shop manager outside the store, police said.

Kenneth Fair, 59, was unconscious with a stab wound on his neck when cops found him outside the Magic 7 Smoke Shop on W. Fordham Road near Sedgewick Ave. in University Heights just after noon on Saturday.

The argument began when Fair complained that as the shop manager carried boxes into the store, he intentionally bumped him, cops said.

The dispute turned physical, and Fair took a swing at the elderly manager, said police.

A shop employee came up behind Fair, put him in a chokehold and knifed him in the neck, cops said.

Medics rushed Fair Jacobi Medical Center, where he died on Saturday afternoon.

Smoke shop employee Vernon Gowdy, 54, who lives around the corner from the store, was arrested at the scene and charged with murder, manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon, said police. The shop manager was not charged, cops said.

Gowdy has a record of nine arrests, the most recent of which was in 2011 on a forcible touching charge, said a law enforcement source.

Fair had an arrest record dating to 1989 with numerous assault, robbery and criminal weapon possession charges, said the source. His most recent arrest was for assault in April 2021, the source said.