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Ecuadorian killed in bar while on job

Luis Cajas, 38, of 610 Trinity Ave. in the Bronx, was shot in the chest and stabbed sometime before 11 a.m. at Kelly's bar and grill at 82-11 Eliot Ave., police said.

It was the third murder at an area drinking hole in two months. On April 3, a Howard Beach man was shot in the head inside a Metropolitan Avenue nightclub in Ridgewood about 3:25 a.m. Ten days later, a Pennsylvania man died after being stabbed in the stomach about 4:30 a.m. outside a tavern on Cypress Avenue near Bushwick.

In the latest killing, Cajas was pronounced dead in the kitchen where he had worked as a dishwasher and cleaner for three years, according to police and Manuel Dutan, Cajas' nephew.

Cajas may have been assaulted by someone trying to rob the bar, police told Dutan.

The Daily News reported, however, that police said no money appeared to have been stolen from the pub.

Cajas immigrated to the United States 12 years ago, Dutan said, leaving his wife and two teenage daughters behind in Ecuador.

He was able to save enough money here to buy them a house and car, Dutan said.

Lately he had been working 10-hour days, seven days a week to save enough cash for his return home in December, where he planned on working as a cab driver, Dutan said.

"He was a nice person. He never liked to fight, he never drink," Dutan said. "He like only work."

Dutan said the bar owner's wife was in the basement when Cajas, who went to work at 9 a.m. was assaulted upstairs, but she apparently heard nothing.

Police responded to a call from the bar about 10:46 a.m., where they found Cajas stabbed and unconscious. Emergency personal later pronounced him dead at the scene. No arrests have been made and the investigation was ongoing, police said.

The bar was closed and blocked by yellow police tape for several hours Monday afternoon as investigators collected evidence inside. About 10 of Cajas' relatives gathered across the street, some of them crying.

"Somebody killed my brother-in-law," said Manuel Alao, who roomed with Cajas in the Bronx. He said he was getting ready to return home to a newly built house in Ecuador.

Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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