By Dustin Brown
An Astoria man who spent his nights as a bouncer and his days as an artist died Sunday from a stab wound he suffered after a scuffle in the trendy East Village bar where he worked, police said.
Three people originally arrested in connection with the slaying were released from custody as the Manhattan district attorney’s office investigated the incident, authorities said.
Dana Blake, 32, of 3-04 27th Ave. in Astoria, died at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, 11 hours after he was stabbed in the lower abdomen outside of Guernica, the Manhattan bar where he worked as a bouncer, police said. Blake suffered the fatal injury during a struggle with patrons whom he ordered out of the bar because they were violating the city’s new anti-smoking ban, published reports said.
“I didn’t want him to be a bouncer — I wanted him to be an artist,” said Dana Blake’s older brother, Tony Blake, also of Astoria. “That’s what we wanted him to do because that’s what he was really good at.”
Still, Tony Blake said his brother left behind a proud legacy from his nighttime career as evinced by the memorial that sprouted in his honor at the night spot where he had worked for the past year and a half.
“He liked his job. He liked bouncing,” Tony Blake said. “You could see he has a whole lot of friends in the business. He was well loved and he’s gonna be greatly missed.”
Police originally arrested three siblings in connection with the killing: Jonathan Chan, 29, Ching Chan, 31, and their sister Ngan Chan, 33, all of Manhattan.
The trio was released from prison because the district attorney was not ready to press charges, authorities said.
“We declined to prosecute them citing the need for further investigation,” said Barbara Thompson, a spokeswoman for Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau. “What’s happening right now is there’s an investigation into all of the facts and circumstances surrounding (Blake’s) death.”
Dana Blake, who had just celebrated his birthday April 4, lived in the same apartment at the Astoria Houses where he and his brother grew up. It was there that he started developing his artistic talent, which as an adult he turned to the benefit of neighborhood children, for whom he made airbrush artwork.
“He loved drawing. That was his thing. He was an artist,” Tony Blake said. “He was trying to get into the business for most of his life. He’s been drawing even as a little kid.”
Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.