Antonio Lacertosa had wanted to see what was going on when an argument broke out outside a restaurant on Staten Island where he and his fiancée were celebrating their recent engagement with friends and relatives early Saturday, one of his sisters said.
But just after the 27-year-old bridegroom-to-be stepped outside, a man with a knife suddenly emerged from the restaurant and plunged the weapon into Mr. Lacertosa’s torso, fatally wounding him.
“He had everything,” Antonia Lacertosa, 29, said of her slain brother as people gathered at the family’s home in the Princes Bay neighborhood on Saturday afternoon. “He would have made a great father.”
It was just after 2 a.m., the police said, when the violence erupted outside the España Restaurant, at 833 Annadale Road. Details about what led to the killing and how it unfolded were still being gathered by investigators.
A law enforcement official, citing preliminary accounts, said it appeared that Mr. Lacertosa had gone outside the restaurant, where he got into a confrontation with a man who was possibly an employee of the restaurant.
That man then “goes back into the place and gets a knife and stabs him,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing.
Ms. Lacertosa said that her brother, a union bricklayer who was one of eight children, was not part of the initial argument, which she described as “a couple of words thrown back and forth.”
It was not known what the argument was about, the police said. The engagement party had apparently shifted to the restaurant after beginning at another spot.
“All I know is that after it was said and done, he walked outside and that is when he was stabbed,” said Ms. Lacertosa, who added that she had left the restaurant a few minutes before the killing, though some of her other siblings as well as her brother’s fiancée were still present.
A man “came outside and started talking loud and then hit my older brother,” she said. “Then a group of people got rowdy.” When that was over, she said, Mr. Lacertosa went outside and “what happened had ended and the guy came out of the kitchen and stabbed him.”
Paramedics took Mr. Lacertosa to Staten Island University Hospital, where the police said he was declared dead.
By late Saturday afternoon, detectives from the Main Street station house in Tottenville had not made an arrest in the case. Ms. Lacertosa said she believed a manager of España was assisting the police. No one answered the phone at the restaurant on Saturday evening.
“No one would ever say anything bad about my brother. He was the greatest,” she said, noting that he was to be married in the coming year.
“He was a great brother, son, uncle, friend,” she said. “He was big, and muscular, but he was a teddy bear.”