FLATIRON — Three men — including one armed with a knife — surrounded a man and threatened to kill him if he didn’t buy them beer, the NYPD said.
The trio ambushed the 24-year-old victim outside of Andy’s Deli at 873 Broadway near West 18th Street at about 11:15 p.m. on Feb. 27, police said.
Pablo Ruiz-Mendoza, 25, was waving a knife and, along with Jorge Otlica, 22, and Fernando Martinez, 22, threatened to kill the man, police said.
The victim managed to escape, police said.
The argument between the three men and their victim, who was a customer, started inside the deli, but when the dispute escalated and deli workers pushed the group out of the store, the scene got violent, said Masood Rehau, a worker at Andy's Deli.
"There was a knife and they started surrounding him," Rehau said.
A woman who was with the victim at the time ran away first and called police, Rehau said. The three suspects worked nearby at a restaurant and used to be regular customers at the deli, but they've picked fights more than once recently and have been banned from the store, Rehau said.
"We don't have fighting here," Rehau said. "We no longer entertain them."
All three suspects were charged with attempted robbery and are due back in court on March 5, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
Otlica was released after his arraignment and his lawyer questioned the police's account.
“He’s been working as a deliveryman a block away [from the deli] for two years,” said Orlando Balcacer, Otlica’s attorney.
“He’s been frequenting [that deli] for the past two years. He knows the people there. It seems a little odd that he would rob someone there. There’s something else going on. What the police are saying isn’t accurate.”
Ruiz-Mendoza and Martinez were both still being held at Rikers Island as of Tuesday afternoon. Bail was set at $2,000 bond and $1,000 cash for Ruiz-Mendoza, and $5,000 for both bond and cash for Martinez, according to the DA.
Their attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
A man who answered the phone at the deli did not have information about the incident.
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