Suffolk police and the anguished family of a man killed in a Port Jefferson billiard hall pleaded for information about the slaying and the suspect Monday — the one-year anniversary of the fatal shooting.
Police said Albert Luis Rodriguez-Lopez was shot three times on July 22, 2018, by Alejandro Vargas-Diaz after an argument at DMB Billiards on Main Street in Port Jefferson.
Luz Lopez, the victim’s mother, cried for justice during a news conference at Suffolk police headquarters in Yaphank while more than a dozen family members sat nearby, all wearing white T-shirts emblazoned with photos of Rodriguez-Lopez and holding signs demanding justice for the father of three. Rodriguez-Lopez’s grandmother, Glady Lopez, wailed at the loss of her grandson. His 23-month-old daughter Sabella took it all in from a relative’s lap.
“There is no peace until there is justice,” Luz Lopez said in Spanish, translated by her son Jason Rodriguez.
“We need information, we need justice for my brother,” Rodriguez said.
Suffolk County Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Vargas-Diaz, County Executive Steve Bellone said.
“We will not stop until justice is served for this family,” Bellone said. “But we need the public’s help and that is why we are here today.”
Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said Rodriguez-Lopez was inside DMB Billiards with relatives when Vargas-Diaz entered. Surveillance video from the pool hall and played at the news conference shows two men, identified by police as Rodriguez-Lopez and the suspect, engaged in an argument before Vargas-Diaz runs out with an accomplice. Police said Vargas-Diaz shot Rodriguez-Lopez three times inside the pool hall, twice in the back and once in the shoulder.
Police declined to comment when asked the nature of the argument between Rodriguez-Lopez and Vargas-Diaz but Hart said the men were acquaintances who knew each other from their native Dominican Republic and Port Jefferson Station, where they both lived.
“It doesn’t matter what the argument was about,” Jason Rodriguez said. “Nobody deserves to lose their life over a petty argument.”
Vargas-Diaz was last seen in surveillance video taken at the LIRR station in Jamaica two hours after the slaying, and in video from the intersection of Sutphin Boulevard and Archer Avenue in Queens, just outside the station, said Det. Norberto Flores.
Hart said Vargas-Diaz had been involved in drug dealing. He has relatives in Brooklyn and Queens, police said, as well as in Paramus and Paterson, New Jersey. He also has family in Hartford, Connecticut and may have fled to the Dominican Republic. Flores has worked with police in the Dominican Republic, police said, but they have not been able to locate the suspect.
“We don’t have any information that he is down there but we can’t rule it out,” said Det. Lt. Kevin Beyrer, commander of the Suffolk police Homicide Squad. “He could be somewhere in the five boroughs, somewhere in New Jersey, somewhere in Connecticut or somewhere in the Dominican [Republic].”
Luz Lopez and other family members held a memorial service in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Center Moriches, where Rodriguez-Lopez is buried, before Monday’s news conference, Jason Rodriguez said.
Seeing Vargas-Diaz in custody would help the family deal with its loss and grief, he said.
“We’re going to find him,” Rodriguez said. “There is no way he is going to stay wherever he is. He is going to get caught for sure.”
Suffolk police ask that anyone with information about the slaying call 800-220-TIPS, text SCPD and the message CRIMES (274637), or email tipsubmit.com.