Police say that the youth soccer coach from Westchester who was fatally stabbed near Union Square early Sunday morning argued with his assailant shortly before the attack. Surveillance footage reportedly shows 25-year-old Michael Jones walking with the suspect down 14th Street before the two get into a dispute. The suspect stabbed Jones at least six times in the head, neck, and chest. Jones's ear was also severed in the attack. "He was greatly loved and respected by everyone, the parents, the players, his colleagues," Craig Hutchinson, who described Jones as his best friend, told the Daily News. "I'm completely shocked and devastated by all of this."
Authorities responded to a 911 call at around 4:25 a.m. Sunday, but are unsure how long Jones lay prone on the sidewalk, as some passersby believed him to be part of a prank for Halloween. "We thought it was a Halloween joke or something because his phone was there, so maybe if we tried to get his phone that he’ll pop up or something," one witness told CBS.
Jones originally hailed from the village of Tarleton in Lancashire, England, and was a coach for the Red Bulls Youth Training program, "He was a tremendous individual, a fantastic coach who loved soccer and a terrific friend for many of us," the organization said in a statement. Hutchinson, also a soccer coach from England who met Jones five years ago, said he had exchanged texts with Jones earlier Saturday evening, and had discussed meeting up but never did. Jones was reportedly with his girlfriend until around midnight.
"He had the patience of a saint with these kids," the parent of an 8-year-old who was coached by Jones for the Castleford Cyclones told the Daily News. "How do you explain to children 8 years old what happened? You can't because it's a senseless crime."
Police have released video of the suspect, and describe him as a Hispanic male, age 25 to 30 years old with a "dark ponytail."