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New York City bodega clerk Jose Alba has reportedly left the Big Apple and is mulling a more permanent move back to his native Dominican Republic after murder charges against him were finally dropped.
Alba, 61, no longer works at the Blue Moon convenience store in Manhattan, where he was attacked behind the counter on July 1 by 35-year-old Austin Simon.
Surveillance video shows Simon threatened Alba, came behind the counter and shoved him into a wall before Alba reached for a knife and fatally stabbed the six-foot tall man. Despite claiming self-defense, Alba was charged with murder.
Simon’s girlfriend apparently grew enraged with Alba for taking back items out of her daughter’s hand that they couldn’t pay for using her electronic welfare card. Simon came back into the store wanting to fight Alba, but Alba tried to avoid further confrontation before he was attacked, according to court documents.
The girlfriend, who has not been charged, also reportedly stabbed Alba in an arm during the incident.
"He doesn’t work here anymore. He’s getting ready to move out of the country," the manager of the store recently told the New York Post. "He doesn’t come [to the store anymore], but we go visit him at home from time to time."
Francisco Marte, the head of a bodega association assisting Alba, told the Post that Alba is still processing the attack and its aftermath. He was jailed at the notorious Rikers Island for about a week before prosecutors cut a deal lowering his $250,000 bail amid widespread outcry from New York City’s Dominican community.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office later backtracked and dropped the murder charge against Alba on July 19, saying in a memo that prosecutors "cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not justified in his use of deadly physical force."
Among many other supporters, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton had publicly decried the initially charging decision, saying Alba acted in self-defense to thwart what appeared to be either an attempt on his own life or a robbery in progress.
Marte said that Alba is now spending time in upstate New York before heading to the Dominican Republic.
"He is taking a hiatus right now," Marte said. "He went upstate to get away from everything."
"He is not going back to work at the bodega. He is taking a break fighting with his trauma, and he said he is afraid for his life," Marte added. "He is trying to get back to normal, but he said it’s very hard when you have flashbacks of what happened. We are getting him professional help, and then [Alba and his family] decide whether he goes back to the DR for good or just spends some time there."