An unhinged dog walker with an extensive criminal record has been arrested for yesterday’s rampage outside a popular Vanderbilt Avenue nightspot where two employees were stabbed — one fatally.
“He’s definitely the guy,” a police source said on Thursday afternoon, just hours after bartender Chai Eun Hillmann, 42, was knifed to death in front of the Branded Saloon, a country-themed bar at the corner of Bergen Street.
According to police, Hillmann, waiter Daniel Hultquist, 36, and a handful of patrons were inside the bar at 2:18 am, when two dogs, a Shih Tzu named Bugsy and a pinscher named Rocco, began snapping at each other on the sidewalk outside.
Hillmann investigated the noise and quickly got into an argument with 36-year-old Daniel Pagan, who owned Bugsy, cops said.
Police allege that Pagan, who spent nine years in jail for manslaughter, pulled a knife and attacked, stabbing Hillmann twice. He then turned his blade on Hultquist, slashing the man’s neck.
“This whole thing began as a fight between two dogs,” the police source said. “The argument and the killing — it’s all related to each other.”
Both Hillmann and Hultquist were rushed to Kings County Hospital, where the bartender died of his injuries. Hultquist was stitched up and released on Thursday afternoon.
Detectives said they identified Pagan, who lives nearby on Underhill Avenue, through surveillance footage and charged him with murder, attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon.
The killing shocked regulars of the Branded Saloon, which just opened this past Memorial Day.
“I don’t even know what to say, this is beyond … beyond!” wrote Jenniece Centrella on the bar’s Facebook page.
The Branded Saloon was closed on Thursday, but grief-stricken employees were inside preparing for a private memorial.
“[The police] got him. We caught him on our cameras,” a visibly upset employee told us. “Tonight, we’re just gathering with family friends.”
Neighbors were also shaken by the news.
“It surprises me,” remembered area resident Erick Rowley. “I never feel like I’m in danger here.”
Another resident, Bailey Saliwanchik, said she was in the new hipster hangout until 1 am, about an hour before the murder.
“I’ve been seeing a lot of fights on the street lately,” she said. “But I’m totally surprised something that violent happened here.”
A second memorial service for Hillmann will take place on Saturday at 8 pm so patrons can show their “solidarity against violence,” bar employees said.