Cops: Michael Jones slay suspect fled to Mexico
A man suspected of killing a West Harrison youth soccer coach hopped on a one-way flight to Mexico hours before detectives learned his identity Tuesday, a law enforcement source told The Associated Press.
Police identified 32-year-old Orlando Orea at 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, the source told the AP, then learned Orea had left the country Tuesday morning, purchasing a one-way Aeromexico ticket with cash at Kennedy International Airport minutes before the flight departed.
The news of Orea's escape came hours after NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said the attacker may have mistaken 25-year-old Michael Jones for someone else when he attacked Jones, stabbing the West Harrison man and cutting his throat at 4:30 a.m. Sunday.
The fatal attack at 14th Street near Fifth Avenue was captured on surveillance camera footage that shows Jones and his Orea walking near each other. The men "appear to be apart, then they come together, where they could have had a conversation and then the victim was attacked," Kelly said at a news conference.
But Kelly said it's not clear from the video whether Jones and Orea did have a conversation. Kelly said investigators don't know whether Jones was the intended target. The attack may have been prompted by an earlier bar fight. Kelly said police haven't verified that detail, and they don't know for sure whether Jones was involved.
It's possible, the commissioner said, that the attacker mistook Jones for a man he clashed with earlier.
"I would not rule that out. Again, it is still a possibility," Kelly said.
At the time Kelly made his remarks, police hadn't yet learned Orea's identity. Orea is also known as Orlando Gutierrez or Orlando Estevas, the AP reported.
Jones, whose memorial service is set for Wednesday morning in White Plains, was a youth soccer trainer for the Red Bulls and most recently coached the Castleford Rovers Soccer Club in Armonk and Bedford and other teams.
A statement from the Westchester Youth Soccer League in New Rochelle called Jones "an inspiring influence on our players and many adult volunteers who worked with him."
The league said a minute of silence will be observed at the start of each game this season to honor Jones' contribution to the game, and an online memorial is being created.
Photos are being solicited from participants in the Westchester County youth league to be used at the memorial service, which will begin at 10 a.m. at the First Baptist Church, 456 North St., in White Plains.
A Red Bulls spokesman said team representatives would be attending the memorial service for Jones, who worked for the team for five years.
Investigators initially said they believe Jones knew his assailant because his cellphone and wallet were found at the scene. Police video surveillance shows a man, about 25-30 years old, with a ponytail walking near Jones on the street when the two got into a fight.
Jones was in Manhattan with his girlfriend visiting a friend in the West Village until about midnight Saturday, when they went their separate ways, according to published reports. Kelly said police had received witness reports about a fight over a woman in a nearby bar, but said detectives had not established whether Jones was involved in that altercation. He declined to name the bar where the original confrontation may have happened.