PD: Transient attacks Phoenix bartender with hammer - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

PD: Transient attacks Phoenix bartender with hammer

Matthew Alcala (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Matthew Alcala (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

A man suspected of hitting a Phoenix bartender over the head with a hammer is behind bars.

It happened at Ice Pics Bar, a well-known gay bar at 3108 E. McDowell Rd.

For Jamel Ortega, one of the bartenders, the pain is excruciating both physically and emotionally.

"Now I'm scarred for life," Ortega said.

Ortega was just home from the hospital with a skull fracture and a concussion when CBS 5 News caught up with him Thursday afternoon.

Ortega said he was counting money and closing up just before 3 a.m. Wednesday when he noticed someone in the back patio.

"He must have hopped over the fence and I was walking toward him," he said. "I'm like, 'You can't be here.'"

Ortega said the suspect began asking for money and cigarettes as he continued to escort him to the gate.

Then the unthinkable happened.

"I saw him turn around," Ortega said. "It happened so fast and he just hit me in the head with a hammer."

While the suspect got away, police said he returned to the area later and they were able to arrest him that evening.

He is identified as 30-year-old Matthew Eugene Alcala, a known transient.

Police said they charged him with aggravated assault, having no reason to believe it was a crime of bias.

"There's no indications whatsoever with the suspect and the confrontation between the suspect and the victim that he was victimized because that is a gay bar," Phoenix police Officer James Holmes said.

With robbery the only motive, Ortega is still trying to make sense of the brutality.

"I'm not going be scared of being in my community because of some a**hole," he said.

Ortega said if the hammer had hit his temple, he might not be alive today.

"Because Ortega will be out of work for at least a couple of weeks, so his co-workers are now planning a benefit barbeque and car wash at Ice Pics Bar this weekend to help him out.

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