Zeldin, Esposito capitalize on high profile bodega killing 

Lee Zeldin
Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin decries the lenient justice policies of the Democratic majority. Photo by Alex O’Connor.

After two weeks of headlines surrounding a fatal bodega incident in Hamilton Heights, the state’s Republican ticket led by Congressman and Gubernatorial Lee Zeldin (R-Long Island) Tuesday continued their efforts to politically capitalize on the tragic incident.

Through edited surveillance footage of the July 1 incident, a woman buying a bag of chips at the Blue Moon Convenience Store on Broadway near 139th Street, gets into a verbal confrontation with the store employee, when her electronic card transaction was declined. 

Her boyfriend, 35-year old Austin Simon, then goes behind the counter demanding an apology from the employee, 52-year old Jose Alba, for grabbing the chips from his girlfriend’s young daughter. Simon pushes Alba, a struggle ensues and Alba fatally stabs Simon. 

Following the incident, Alba was charged with second-degree murder and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg asked for $500,000 bail, which Alba didn’t have and he spent six days at Rikers Island. A judge then reduced that bail to $50,000, and Alba was able to come up with the $5,000 bond and was released pending his trial.

“The first thing that I am going to do as governor of the state of New York in January, after I take an oath to uphold our Constitution, the US Constitution, the New York State Constitution to uphold the laws of this state, my first act on day one will be to remove Alvin Bragg as a district attorney here in Manhattan,” said Zeldin at a press conference across from Bragg’s office.

Esposito, a former NYPD deputy inspector, sees this as a “travesty of justice” and said in her remarks, “We are now in a society where we are being told everything that we know to be good is bad. And everything we know in our hearts is bad and what we are being told it’s okay that we are in an upside down society where we have perpetrators, criminals, being labeled as victims, and sometimes hailed as heroes.”

The GOP ticket paints a city in chaos where the only solution is to beat incumbent Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul in the general election. 

“There are people in this city right now of all walks of life who don’t feel safe,” said Zeldin. “We’re tired of reading headlines of one person after another in the Asian American community being murdered in the city’s subway, and have another member stabbed to death in their apartment in lower Manhattan.”

The press conference included a display of fake drugs meant to symbolize a reported $1.2 million drug bust that gave Zeldin the opportunity to lambast “cashless” bail and further criticize Bragg and Hochul.  

“We should recognize the inherent right of self defense of our men and women and we should make sure they have all the tools and resources they need to do their jobs safely and effectively. Absolutely. We should make sure that law enforcement isn’t unfairly targeted,” said Zeldin.