Silver Spring resident Assefaw Hagos was having some drinks last Friday at Salina, an Ethiopian-style restaurant also serving Italian food at 1936 9th Street NW.
Sometime after the dramatic conclusion to Game 5 of the NBA semifinals between the Phoenix Suns and the L.A. Lakers, Hagos, 40, asked the restaurant’s proprietor, Terfneh Kahsay, if he could go upstairs, where a card game was underway.
When police arrived on the scene at approximately 2:19 a.m., Hagos was lying on the sidewalk outside the establishment, suffering from stab wounds. He later died.
Kahsay told D.C.’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board on Wednesday that people often come over to his private second-floor residence above the restaurant for card games. The residential entrance sits outside, through a separate door from the restaurant.
It was simply a friendly card game–no money, no booze–Kahsay said. The owner was closing shop with a waitress when someone knocked on the door of his restaurant and informed him that Hagos and Samson Alemayhu, 48, were fighting outside.
“I don’t know what happened upstairs. I didn’t know until after I closed,” he said. The altercation took place outside the establishment after it had closed for the night, he noted. The restaurant does not employ a security guard, nor does it have surveillance cameras. By the time Kahsay got outside, Alemayhu had left, only to return shortly with a knife, he testified.
Hagos and Alemayhu had known each other since residing in Athens, Greece, years ago. “They argued in the past, but I never seen any weapons coming out,” Kahsay said.
Hagos was transported to Howard University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at approximately 3:04 a.m. Alemayhu was arrested late Sunday and charged with first-degree murder.
ABC Board Chairman Charles Brodsky advised Kahsay to install surveillance cameras.