Assailants stab, kill restaurant worker

October 27, 2009 3:22:44 PM PDT
It's a bustling gathering spot for the Dominican Community in Washington Heights. La Casa Del Mofongo serves the neighborhood as a popular restaurant by day and a raucous dance club by night. The restaurant is known for its Caribbean food and pulsing merengue and dance music.

Things went way out of hand on Monday night. Police say a bouncer was stabbed several times in the torso at about 3:30 a.m. Tuesday after he tossed several people.

"We apologize to the family of the guy that been killed. We feel their pain. We are with them," said manager Franklin Cruz.

Cruz says he does everything he can to maintain order at his bar - from an extensive network of cameras to the private security company he hires to provide bouncers.

But early Tuesday morning, when one of those bouncers tried to stop a fight, cops say someone stabbed him to death.

Detectives spent most of the morning piecing it all together.

Among other things, they pulled video from multiple cameras, which point directly at the spot where the fight started.

Investigators brought three people to the nearby 34th precinct stationhouse for questioning, and later sources said one suspect was in custory, but not yet charged.

"We have been open for over three years and that's the first time something like that has happened," Cruz said.

Maybe the first murder, but people in the neighborhood say it's far from a surprise. They say when the kitchen closes and the restaurant patrons go home, the bar attracts a decidedly unsavory crowd.

"Come by here at five in the morning and there's people with wrenches out here beating each other up," resident Dave Riley said.

"They drink, cause a lot of trouble and that's what happened. Fights break out," another resident, Rudy Lopez told us.

The cameras and the bouncer were no match for someone with a knife.

"Doing his job, and it cost him his life," Riley said.

The name of the bouncer was not released.

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