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Suspect in brutal New York murder flees to Mexico as police close in

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A man suspected of cutting off a youth soccer coach's ear and slashing him to death fled to Mexico City hours before New York police detectives learned his name and added him to a no-fly list, a law enforcement official said on Wednesday.

Orlando Orea, 32, bought a one-way ticket on an Aero Mexico flight just before its departure from Kennedy International Airport on Tuesday, according to the official, who is not authorized to discuss the investigation and declined to be named.

Later that day, police learned Orea's name and identified him as the chief suspect in the killing in Manhattan early on Sunday morning.

Police said Orea pulled out a knife and fatally slashed Michael Jones, 25, a coach with the New York Red Bulls Youth Training Program.

Surveillance video taken on the street near Union Square showed Jones and Orea in what investigators think may have been an argument.

The NYPD is looking into whether the attack was a case of mistaken identity. Detectives have located a woman who was with Orea in a bar before the incident, who told them Orea had gotten into an argument with another patron, the official said.

Orea may have mistaken Jones for the man he had argued with at the bar, police said.

The Red Bulls soccer team said a memorial is scheduled for Wednesday for Jones, who was born in England.

"He was a tremendous individual, a fantastic coach who loved soccer and a terrific friend for many of us," the organization said in a statement. "We will do our utmost to help authorities in their investigation of the case."

(Reporting By Chris Francescani; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Xavier Briand)

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