A man accused of outside of a Bethlehem Township hotel on Thursday afternoon told police that he was “enraged and furious” after his victim cursed at him and they exchanged punches outside of a state liquor store across the street, according to court papers.
The victim, Vincent Dukes, 23, of Alverne, N.Y., even admitted to police that he threw the first punch at the along Route 191, an affidavit says.
According to an eyewitness, the argument began because Dukes was upset that he could not buy alcohol at the state Wine & Spirits shop in the mall.
Nonetheless, Asani Wahid Elliott, 19, of Brooklyn, N.Y. has been charged with criminal attempt to commit homicide and a number of other serious counts. He is in Northampton County Prison in lieu of $500,000 bail.
According to police, Elliott took a five-inch long serrated steak knife and stabbed Dukes in the chest, under his left arm, during a scuffle outside of the hotel – the second the two men had within minutes of one another. The blow punctured Dukes’ left lung and caused the left side of his lung to collapse, the arrest warrant says.
Rabelto Stafford, Dukes’ brother who was also sharing his hotel room with Elliott, told that the men were part of a team of employees from Respond Power, a Brooklyn-based energy company that is in the area trying to sell the company’s services to local customers.
According to the warrant:
- Eyewitness Lance Jenkins said he, Dukes, Elliott and another man were refused service in the liquor store because Elliott is under age. After going outside – and leaving Elliott outside, three of the men went back in but were still refused service, Jenkins said. Duke was “upset” that the men couldn’t buy alcohol.
- Elliott told police that when Dukes left the store he came out swearing at him and calling him names. The argument escalated into a fistfight during which Dukes split Elliott’s lip, Elliott said. The wound was still visible as were bloodstains on the sidewalk outside the liquor store.
- Dukes said he hit Elliott first, but that Elliott was coming at him and looked angry and he believed he was about to hit him.
- Elliott returned to the hotel alone. Dukes and the other men returned a few minutes later. As Dukes arrived at the hotel parking lot, Elliott left his room to confront Dukes.
- Dukes said Elliott came at him screaming something he did not understand. Elliott said Dukes saw him and said: “You want some of this.” Elliott, who is 5-feet, 5-inches tall and weighs 126 pounds, said he felt he could not back down. “You have to earn respect,” he told police.
- A second melee began. Dukes said he felt the stab to his side after Elliott had put him into a headlock. Elliott said Dukes had put him into a headlock and the men ended up on the ground. He saw the steak knife there, picked it up and stabbed Dukes.
- Elliott said that the preceding night, Independence Day, the men were shooting off fireworks in the parking lot and had used a pair of scissors and a steak knife to open the packaging. The knife had remained there overnight, Elliott told police.
- It was “kinda self defense,” Elliott said during an interview with police. “I guess it wasn’t really self defense. I picked it up and I stabbed him.”
- Police did later find the blood soaked weapon on the ground in the parking lot.
- After Stafford pulled Elliott off of Dukes, Elliott said he ran away because he was scared. Police found him a short time later sitting on a curb along nearby Drift Court.
In addition to criminal attempt to commit homicide, Elliott was charged with two counts of aggravated assault, possessing the instruments of a crime, reckless endangerment, simple assault and harassment.
He was arraigned before night duty .