East Harlem

NYC Deli Worker Fatally Stabbed After Refusing to Sell 75-Cent Loose Cigarette on Credit

NBC Universal, Inc.

A New York City deli worker was stabbed to death by a customer who became enraged over the price of an item, police said.

The altercation began inside an East Harlem deli near East 102nd Street and Second Avenue at about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday. Regulars at the shop said it got heated when a customer got angry because he tried to buy loose 75-cent cigarettes on credit, and the worker refused.

The dispute spilled outside the deli, surveillance video shows, where the customer stabbed 34-year-old deli worker Ahmed Almulaiki in the upper body, police said. Almulaiki defended himself with a golf club, while the attacker danced around him before jabbing him with the knife at least twice.

Almulaiki stumbled away and was taken to a nearby hospital, where he died.

"It's a very hard moment to say anything because it's shocking. I don't know how I can explain," said Mohamed Zokari, a cousin of Almulaiki who said he was a husband and father. He worked in the deli with relatives, and sent money back to his wife, daughter and parents in Yemen.

The stabber fled east on 102nd Street, police said. They are now offering a reward for information leading to an arrest in the case, as are neighborhood groups and politicians — even up to the men vying to become the next mayor of NYC — who want to bring the suspect to justice.

"This goes back to Eric Garner. That's why he got killed, over loose cigarettes. The city needs to enforce this, the Department of Consumer Affairs. They used to do it, they don't do it any longer," said Republican nominee Curtis Sliwa.

"This should not have happened. We have to deal with this issue of violence," said Democratic nominee Eric Adams, who said he was putting up $1,000 of his own money as a reward. More came in after that announcement, with $5,000 on the table for information, in addition to what the police offer.

Copyright NBC New York/Associated Press
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