NYPD brass, bodega reps on Upper East Side repeat call for masks off days after masked robber murders worker

NYPD top brass and members of the Bodega Association of America gathered outside the Upper East Side bodega where a worker was killed Friday.
Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

Loved ones of the Upper East Side bodega worker who was shot and killed Friday night in a robbery gone bad gathered Monday with NYPD officials at a memorial outside the grocery store, demanding justice and better protection of Big Apple shopkeepers.

Members of the Bodega Association of America also took part in the call to action near the Daona Gourmet Deli in the vicinity of East 81st Street and Third Avenue, where the 67-year-old male employee was gunned down on the night of March 3.

Officers from the 19th Precinct found the cashier, whose identity remains withheld pending family notification, with a gunshot wound to the head at about 11:28 p.m. that evening. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

A memorial outside the deli Monday morning.Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

At a press conference outside the shop Monday, officials reiterated that police are looking for a suspect described as a Hispanic male who was last seen wearing a white hazmat suit and donning a black mask. Along with executing the store clerk, authorities said the suspect told a customer to lie on the ground, and subsequently robbed him.

For police brass and the Bodega Association of America, the deadly incident seemed to reinforce the notion that all businesses should require patrons to unmask before entering. 

By doing so, NYPD’s Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey said last week, business owners could ensure people are recognizable on surveillance cameras. Mayor Eric Adams echoed Maddrey’s calls on Monday in a radio interview.

Ironically, the calls come even as the NYPD acknowledges retail theft is on the decline.  Maddrey on Monday doubled down his position on unmasking at entrance.

“We want these bodega workers to feel safe while working behind the counter,” he said.

The head of the Bodega Association of America agreed.

“We’ve been robbed of millions of dollars this way,” said Bodega Association of America President Alfonso Montez. “This is very real. We want to go home to our families and make money to provide for our families.”

A memorial out front where a bodega worker was shot and killed Friday. The alleged gunman is pictured at right.Photo by Lloyd Mitchell/Courtesy NYPD

Candles, flowers and posters were still laid outside of the business Monday, one of which read, “We will miss you forever.”

Police believe the same suspect is responsible for several other armed burglaries across the borough, including a number of incidents in Brooklyn and Queens. He is considered armed and dangerous, cops said Monday.

Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org, on Twitter @NYPDTips.

All calls and messages are kept confidential.