Harlem bodega worker’s plea to stabbed man’s family: ‘Please forgive me’

·2 min read

The Harlem bodega worker facing murder charges for killing a man who confronted him in the store broke his silence on Monday and asked the victim’s family for forgiveness.

Jose Alba, 61, said he is still trying to make sense of the grocery store showdown that ended with an angry man dead on the floor of the shop and him holding the bloody knife.

“I was trying to defend my life,” Alba told reporters outside his Harlem apartment. “I didn’t want to do this. I feel bad for his family. I ask them to please forgive me.”

Although Alba has gotten support from people across the city, including Mayor Adams, he said he is afraid to venture outside because there are people who might want to harm him for the other man’s death.

“I don’t want to go out,” he said. “I’m not comfortable showing my face.”

Alba posted bond and was released from jail after prosecutors agreed to a lower bail package at the request of a bodega owners group.

Alba was initially held on a $250,000 cash bail after he was charged in the fatal knifing of Austin Simon at the bodega on Broadway near W. 139 St. Friday during a fast-escalating dispute over a bag of chips that hadn’t been paid for, and that Alba had taken away from a young girl.

After talks with Alba’s defense council, prosecutors agreed to knock his bail down to $50,000 on Thursday, officials said.

Simon was killed July 1 when he confronted Alba over a bag of chips Simon’s girlfriend had tried to buy for her daughter. The girlfriend said Alba snatched the snack from her 10-year-old daughter’s hand, according to a criminal complaint.

The caught-on-camera clash showed the avenging Simon, 34, pushing Alba to a chair behind the counter and towering over him while screaming in his face before pushing him and grabbing his neck.

Alba allegedly grabbed a knife and plunged the blade into Simon’s neck at least five times.

“I never thought I’d be in a position like this because I didn’t want to do that,” Alba said, while his daughter translated. “I feel bad about being arrested because I was defending myself. I feel sad about what happened.”

Alba was also wounded in the melee after Simon’s girlfriend allegedly stabbed Alba in the arm. Another video shows a woman trying to yank the knife away from Alba. Then she reaches into her purse, pulls out her own knife and stabs Alba in the arm.

Alba said his wounds became infected because Rikers Island medical staff did not treat him.

“I’m OK,” he said. ”I’m fine.”

Alba said he was grateful for the support he’s received.

“I was put in a position,” he said. “I didn’t know how this was going to end.”