Slashed Clerk Recovering After Refusing to Let Man Use Food Stamp for Beer
BROOKLYN — A Bushwick bodega clerk said he felt lucky to be alive Friday after he was slashed in the face for refusing to let a customer buy beer with food stamps.
Mutahar Murshed Ali, 38, returned to the Express Deli, on Broadway near Gates Avenue, one day after the Thursday morning attack, his face stitched and bandaged.
"The doctor said if he go down there, good luck son," Ali said, pointing to his neck and noting that the injury could have been fatal.
"I say, 'Thank you God.'"
The trouble started Thursday morning when a teenage girl walked into the bodega asking to buy beer, Ali said. He refused, because she was underage.
Within minutes, a man walked into the deli and tried to buy a $1.25 bottle of beer, allegedly for the girl, using his Electronic Benefits Transfer Card, Ali said.
It is illegal to buy alcohol with food stamps, and Ali refused to sell him the beer, he said.
"I said, 'No way, that's six years,'" Ali said, referring to potential jail time for selling alcohol in exchange for food stamps.
The man retorted, "Listen, don't make me mad," Ali said, before pulling out what Ali described as a box-cutter blade.
The suspect then stepped onto a ledge about a foot above the floor and leaned over the counter toward Ali, surveillance footage shows.
The man reached out and slashed Ali in the face, then quickly made for the front door while Ali walked away from the cash register hunched over, clutching his bloodied face.
Ali was cut nearly ear to mouth on the left side of his face. The Yemeni immigrant was treated at Kings County Hospital and later released.
On Friday, officials from the state Workers' Compensation Board posted a stop-work order on the bodega's front door. The notice said that the "employer has failed to secure Worker's Compensation coverage."
It was not immediately clear if the order was related to Thursday's slashing.
Cops described the suspect as 25 to 30 years old, with short black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing black jeans and a white T-shirt, and he was carrying a black backpack, police said.