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Crime A Park Shed Its Reputation. Then Came the Tessa Majors Murder.

16:56  14 december  2019
16:56  14 december  2019 Source:   nytimes.com

Aunt of teen suspect in Tessa Majors murder speaks out: ‘I am sorry for her family, but I know my nephew did not do this’

  Aunt of teen suspect in Tessa Majors murder speaks out: ‘I am sorry for her family, but I know my nephew did not do this’ The aunt of a 13-year-old charged with the murder of a Barnard College freshman said the boy didn’t do it. The woman, who did not want to be identified, insisted that cops have the wrong suspect in custody. “He didn’t do this,” she said Friday through sobs. “My nephew did not do that.” Hours earlier, cops arrested the teen, and charged him with murder in the death of Tessa Majors, 18, a freshman who was fatally stabbed as she jogged Wednesday afternoon in Morningside Park, near the Columbia University campus that Barnard shares with the school.

Morningside Park seems to jut up, like a narrow extension of Central Park , into Upper Manhattan — separating affluent Columbia University, in the elevated Morningside Heights neighborhood, from Harlem to the east.

The student, Tessa Majors , was stabbed repeatedly after she was approached by one to three She said the murder of Ms. Majors would affect students’ perception of the park . “This is going to Public defenders and justice advocates want the New York Police Department to abolish its gang database.

Morningside Park seems to jut up, like a narrow extension of Central Park, into Upper Manhattan — separating affluent Columbia University, in the elevated Morningside Heights neighborhood, from Harlem to the east.

a man flying a kite: An 18-year-old Barnard student, Tessa Majors, was fatally stabbed in Morningside Park on Wednesday evening.© Stephanie Keith for The New York Times An 18-year-old Barnard student, Tessa Majors, was fatally stabbed in Morningside Park on Wednesday evening.

“It’s literally the border between the Columbia community and Harlem,” said Amanda Ong, 21, a Columbia senior.

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The park was long considered to be a dangerous expanse, especially after nightfall. But as crime dropped over the years, so did those fears.

Slain Barnard College student fought her attackers in robbery, police say

  Slain Barnard College student fought her attackers in robbery, police say A group of teens put Tessa Majors, 18, in a chokehold and were taking items from her pockets when she fought back, detectives said in court.The boy and two friends had originally followed a man into the park with plans to rob him on Wednesday night, but instead targeted Majors, New York police Det. Vincent Signoretti testified.One of the teens put Majors in a chokehold, and as they were taking belongings out of her pockets she fought back and bit the finger of one of the robbers, the court was told.

The park where Ms. Majors was stabbed, near the campuses of Barnard College and Columbia University, is in a precinct in Harlem that has grown safer As of Dec. 8, there had been 20 robberies inside Morningside Park or on its perimeter this year, compared to seven in the same period last year.

Maxwell Majors , the slain student's younger brother, shared a heartbreaking tribute to his sister the day after the news of her horrific murder . Authorities say Majors was walking down a flight of steps into Morningside Park in upper Manhattan when she was approached by a group of three or four young

College students and professionals began moving into the rapidly gentrifying section of Harlem along the park’s east side, and using the land’s winding, wooded pathways to get access to the Columbia campus and its affiliated Barnard College.

a close up of a person wearing a hat: Ms. Majors’s death was met with shock and grief on campus, where students were preparing for finals.© Provided by The New York Times Ms. Majors’s death was met with shock and grief on campus, where students were preparing for finals.

The park soon flourished as a welcoming common space, where academics and longtime Harlem residents could mingle and walk their dogs, and frequent the weekend farmers market on its south perimeter.

But a recent rash of muggings and attacks in the park, culminating on Wednesday with the fatal stabbing of an 18-year-old Barnard student, Tessa Majors, has shattered that sense of safety and jolted both neighborhoods, recalling a time decades ago, when the city had more than 1,000 homicides a year.

Teen questioned in connection with Barnard College student's murder released

  Teen questioned in connection with Barnard College student's murder released Police have released a 14-year-old they were questioning in connection to the death of Barnard College student Tessa Majors. © Conrad MacKethan An undated photo shows Tessa Majors, an 18-year old Barnard College student who died after she was stabbed in Morningside Park in Upper Manhattan, N.Y., Dec. 11, 2019. The 14-year-old was with his lawyer during questioning and made no statements, a police source told ABC News. Law enforcement officials declined to charge him at this time, so he was released. This teen is not believed to be the person who stabbed Majors.

Tessa Majors came to New York City to make some music. Ms. Majors , an 18-year-old Barnard student whom everyone recognized by her green hair, grew The park where Ms. Majors was killed is in a Harlem precinct that has grown safer over the years, but residents have raised concerns about

Tessa Majors . Five people have reported being robbed at or near the same staircase since June, The New York Times reports. Asked by CBS News correspondent Errol Barnett why the murder rate is higher this year compared to last year, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said: "Look, it ' s a question

The ages of the suspects in the case further unnerved local residents. First, a 13-year-old boy who lives in Harlem was arrested in connection with the killing. He was expected to be charged as a juvenile with second-degree felony murder, robbery and criminal possession of a weapon, the police said.

a close up of a busy city street: Some students said they were worried less about their own safety than about the attack being used to portray Harlem as unsafe.© Stephanie Keith for The New York Times Some students said they were worried less about their own safety than about the attack being used to portray Harlem as unsafe.

The boy’s statements led investigators to two other suspects, one of whom is 14 years old and another who is believed to be the same age, officials said. One of the teenagers was detained and interviewed, and it was unclear whether he would be charged, officials said.

The other is believed to be the person who stabbed Ms. Majors and as of Friday evening was still being sought, according to a law enforcement official.

Slain NYC student's family blasts police union head over comments

  Slain NYC student's family blasts police union head over comments The family of Tessa Majors said the comments blame the young woman "intentionally or unintentionally" for her own murderPolice on Thursday took into custody a 13-year-old who admitted he was part of a group that went to the park to rob someone, and said he watched as his friend stabbed and choked the young woman, CBS News' Errol Barnett reported.

Tessa Majors murder : Suspect, 13, arrested in stabbing of Barnard student. He was taken to the precinct on trespassing and weapons charges — and then confessed to the murder , telling Police said Majors was stabbed several times at the base of stairs in Morningside Park near West 116th

Freshman Tessa Majors (pictured) who was brutally stabbed to death near the Barnard College's Manhattan campus was scheduled to play two gigs in her hometown during the winter break. Mayor Bill de Blasio came under fire on Thursday for his position on crime after tweeting about Tessa 's death.

Columbia’s relationship with its surroundings has had many uneasy patches. The university, which has a huge endowment and owns scores of buildings, has been criticized by some longtime residents as a gentrifying force.

Tyrone Carter, 60, who works in a wine shop in Harlem, said that growing up in Harlem, he and his friends rarely ventured to Morningside Heights because it was “a different demographic.”

“People here lived through a heroin epidemic, a crack epidemic,” Mr. Carter said. “So being black in Harlem, some see it as invasion when young white up-and-comers start buying up buildings. I was born and raised in Harlem, and I can barely afford to live here now.”

Kevin Gates, 42, a teacher and lifelong Harlemite, said he was shocked by the killing, but not surprised.

“This area may have changed cosmetically, but it’s still New York City,” he said. “Gentrification has brought an influx of restaurants and night life, so a lot of the new people moving in here see it as some playground or utopia. But some get a false sense of security and forget it is still New York City.”

14-year-old suspect in student's murder bolts on way to police

  14-year-old suspect in student's murder bolts on way to police Police are now searching for a 14-year-old considered a suspect in the Barnard College student's death.

Tessa Majors in a photo she posted to her Instagram account. “We lost a very special, very talented The park where Ms. Majors was stabbed, near the campuses of Barnard College and Columbia 8, there had been 20 robberies inside Morningside Park or on its perimeter this year, compared to

Then came 20 years of focused, highly productive anti-crime policing — the Giuliani-Mike The Barnard College freshman was stabbed to death early Wednesday evening in an apparent mugging in a stairwell at Morningside Park near 116th Street. And now comes the murder of Tessa Majors

a man in a police car parked in a parking lot: Students board a Barnard College shuttle bus on Thursday after Ms. Majors was killed in nearby Morningside Park.© Jeenah Moon/Getty Images Students board a Barnard College shuttle bus on Thursday after Ms. Majors was killed in nearby Morningside Park.

Morningside Park is in a Harlem police precinct that has grown safer over the years, but crime has risen this year in the park itself.

As of Dec. 8, there had been 20 robberies inside Morningside Park or on its perimeter this year, compared to seven in the same period last year. Recently, the police said, several teenagers had been arrested in a pattern of robberies in the area.

Ms. Majors was stabbed around 7 p.m. near West 116th Street, at the foot of an expansive stone staircase leading up to Morningside Heights, the police said. She then staggered up those stairs to the street, where she was found by a campus security guard.

On Friday, Cole Levi-Crouch, 36, a dog walker from Harlem who is in Morningside Park regularly, said he avoided all but the most lighted parts at night.

“Most New Yorkers always have their guard up, but if you’re new to New York you may not know that,” he said. “The area has gotten a lot safer, and maybe that has created a false sense of security.”

Maria Lopez, 61, a longtime park neighbor, gazed at the crime scene and said, “When I was growing up, and even in my 20s, you never came to this park, daytime or nighttime.”

But now, she said, many newcomers exhibit a boldness that contrasts with the wariness that some older New Yorkers retain from more dangerous times.

Hearing reveals new details in case of murdered student

  Hearing reveals new details in case of murdered student A 13-year-old suspect appeared in court on Tuesday as police search for another 14-year-old who may be involved.A second suspect, who is 13, appeared in court on Tuesday. He sat slumped in court, staring ahead blankly, at one point yawning during the evidence hearing that would determine his role in Majors' death.

Why Tessa Majors ' murder could prove a turning point for New York. Just three months before Barnard College freshman Tessa Majors was murdered in Morningside Park , a Columbia University student was mugged at knifepoint by a trio of youths in the exact same spot, The Post has learned.

While Morningside Park has a reputation for violence, a number of safety initiatives have been put in place in recent years, particularly for The New York Times reported that a 13-year-old boy has been arrested and charged in the fatal stabbing of 18-year-old Barnard College student Tessa Majors .

“People with money think, ‘I have the right to walk through here,’” she said. “Old-timers would never do that.”

Ms. Majors’s death was met with shock and grief on campus, where students were preparing for finals.

The bright holiday lights lining its bustling College Walk area were turned off, and university officials advised students of counseling options and possible extensions for some academic deadlines.

“There’s a real sense of loss and sadness hovering over the campus. It’s palpable,” said Suzanne B. Goldberg, the executive vice president for university life at Columbia.

While some students raised questions about how Columbia advises its incoming students about staying safe, other students at both Columbia and Barnard — a women’s college whose students basically share Columbia’s campus and course offerings — said safety briefings were standard, as was the advice to avoid entering Morningside Park after dark.

The attack also reopened longstanding questions over both racial tensions and Columbia’s relationship with more economically struggling nearby neighborhoods with many black and Hispanic residents.

Some students said they were worried less about their own safety than about the attack being used to portray Harlem as unsafe.

“A lot of response I’m getting from people is, ‘Oh, be careful of that area,’” said Ms. Ong, the Columbia senior, adding that such a response was “racially coded.”

Matthew Lim, 22, a Columbia junior, also worried about how the news might affect the relationship between the Columbia community and longtime Harlemites.

Tessa Majors Murder: CT Man Accused Of Threatening To Kill Teen Suspect In Online Post

  Tessa Majors Murder: CT Man Accused Of Threatening To Kill Teen Suspect In Online Post Police say 31-year-old Trevor Spring admitted to making the online threat about killing the 13-year-old suspect and to making racially motivated comments as well. Investigators added that they don’t believe Spring had access to weapons and say the North Stonington man claimed he had no intention of traveling to New York City to carry out the threat. He’s still being charged with threatening in the second degree. The investigation into Majors’ murder continues and the NYPD is still looking for a third teen being accused by that 13-year-old of repeatedly stabbing the Barnard College student to death.

And now comes the murder of Tessa Majors — as shocking in its own way as that of Brian Watkins. One can only hope that it has the same effect — forcing a great but faltering city to focus once again on its fundamental responsibilities and do right by its law-abiding citizens. Before it is too late.

Tessa Majors murder : 13-year-old arrested for stabbing college freshman in New York park . Majors had moved to New York City just months ago from In the hours that followed, police began looking for several individuals who they believed were involved in the murder , which reportedly came as a result

“We know that, just because of one incident, we shouldn’t make broad-stroke judgments about people who live here, but it’s hard if it affects a member of our community,” he said.

The park itself, which slopes downward toward Harlem, is clearly demarcated by an imposing rocky wall. Its playgrounds and ball fields have replaced patches that were once strewn with crack vials. And although crime has dropped in the neighborhood over the years, incidents in the park persist.

Earlier this year, several people reported that they had been approached from behind in the park and punched by young people.

Since June, five people reported being robbed on or near the staircase at 116th Street and Morningside Drive, near the spot where Ms. Majors was killed.

The local city councilman, Mark Levine, called the park much safer than it was 20 years ago, but added that the recent uptick in robberies was “unacceptable.”

He said that some of the messages his office received from constituents after the attack were “laced with ugly and inappropriate racial comments” — some demanding the return of stop and frisk and a more aggressive style of policing more common two decades ago.

“One of my concerns arising from the young age of the suspects in this case is that there’ll be pressure on police to ratchet up aggressive enforcement on kids as young as 13,” Mr. Levine said.

Alex Traub, Kwame Opam and Michael Gold contributed reporting.

Teen murder suspect's purported confession: Lawyers agree to limit disclosure .
A 13-year-old boy arrested for the murder of Barnard College student Tessa Majors appeared in family court on Monday.The two sides, chided by Judge Carol Goldstein for coming to family court unprepared, briefly huddled in a private room before announcing they had reached agreement.

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