Long Island

Long Island Homeowner Stabs Tire Thief to Death — and Faces Charges

The homeowner is charged with first-degree manslaughter and first-degree assault

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A 22-year-old Bronx man was stabbed to death by a Long Island homeowner who caught him and two others trying to steal the wheel rims and tires from the SUV parked in his driveway, authorities say.

According to police, Jacob Alvarenga Mejia was at his Jericho Turnpike home in Bellerose Village on Saturday, May 13, when he noticed three people messing with his 2023 Toyota Highlander. He went outside with a large kitchen knife around 1:30 a.m., cops say, and stabbed one of the men, Luis Pena, multiple times in the upper torso before the group ran off.

"As they are getting in their car, the last individual getting into the car, [Mejia] stabbed him multiple times in the back," said Nassau County Police Captain Stephen Fitzpatrick.

Pena was taken to a hospital in the Bronx by the other two men. He died a short time later.

Mejia, 28, was arrested in the case on Thursday following an investigation. Detectives claim he was the aggressor in this case. They say he may have been angry his tires were stolen two months after a catalytic converter theft.

Mejia is charged with first-degree assault and first-degree manslaughter and was being held on $500,000 cash bail. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Friday afternoon and is due back in court next week.

His family declined to speak but his attorney said there's more to the story.

"We think the scenario is a bit different than what was described and we’ll take it from there. Was he defending himself? It will be investigated," said attorney James McGlynn.

"By law, you’re allowed to defend your property, you can use physical force. You can’t use deadly physical force," said Capt. Fitzpatrick. "There’s no indication of the three subjects stealing the rims being the aggressors, being physical to Mr. Mejia."

It's unclear if the other two men who allegedly stole the tires and rims with Pena will eventually be charged.

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