A bartender an an upscale Oakland restaurant is behind bars today, after witnesses say they watched him beat a homeless man to death outside his place of business.
The alleged homicide happened outside Flora, which describes itself as "an Art Deco restaurant and bar in downtown Oakland" on its website, at around 4:15 p.m. Sunday.
The East Bay Times reports that 42-year-old Cooky York was "panhandling aggressively" outside Flora when he "got into an altercation with a relative" of 29-year-old Oakland resident Juan Espino, a bartender at the restaurant.
When told about the incident, Espino walked out of the restaurant and confronted York, the EBT reports.
Following the verbal confrontation, police told KTVU that Espino "went to an upstairs office and got a baseball bat."
Subsequent surveillance video shows Espino running toward the victim, who is walking away from him, KTVU reports.
According to the Chron, "A witness said he saw the killer run out a nearby bar and club the victim in the head from behind with a baseball bat." According to KTVU, he "came up to the victim from behind and, with two hands, swung the bat, hitting the victim."
Witnesses say Espino then ran back up the street, tossing the bat down an alley adjacent to the bar, the Chron reports. Investigators say that the two men did not know one another prior to the attack.
Witnesses to the attack flagged down a passing patrol car at 4:18, and emergency responders transported York to a hospital, where he later died.
According to the EBT, Espino fled the scene and was later arrested at his Oakland residence "after police identified him through witnesses and physical evidence." He was booked into Santa Rita Jail on suspicion of first-degree murder early Monday.
On Wednesday, Espino made his first appearance in court, where he Alameda County prosecutors charged him with murder as well as an enhancement and an enhancement for allegedly using the bat as a deadly weapon, KTVU reports.
Espino's family and friends packedthe courtroom "to support him," the EBT reports. According to KTVU, "One man in the audience raised his arm in the air, but Espino did not appear to respond."
In a written statement, Flora Restaurant says that "Sunday's events are tragic and heartbreaking and will have a lasting effect on much of our staff and community. We send our deepest condolences to the victim's family, and to anyone else who was affected by this horrific tragedy. The world has far too much violence in it."
He is no longer employed by Flora, KTVU reports, and "was not on the clock at the time of the killing."
Espino, who did not enter a plea in Thursday's hearing, is expected to do so during his next court appearance, on November 30. Until then, he remains in custody without bail.