The park in New York City where Barnard College student Tessa Majors was murdered Wednesday has been a hot spot of crime in recent months, the New York Post reports, as a victim of a recent robbery wonders if he may have encountered some of the same assailants now in custody in connection to the Barnard freshman’s murder.
Columbia University student Yao Yu said he was held at knifepoint and robbed by males who appeared to be teenagers on the afternoon of August 27, in the same spot in Morningside Park where Majors was fatally attacked.
“They asked me where I was from and if I had any money,” Yu told the New York Post.
“At first, I didn’t think they were threatening me, so I told them I didn’t have any money. Then, they showed me an open knife, so I gave them my wallet and they took my money.”
Three youths were allegedly responsible for the robbery against Yu.
Yu went to police and was told “several people” reported being mugged in the same location “by the same teenagers,” but that authorities could not do much because of the suspects’ ages.
“When I heard about the girl who was killed, I thought it was the same group of teenagers, and I was scared,” Yu told the newspaper. “I feel very sorry for her.”
Data obtained by the New York Post show that in the last year, at least 20 robberies have been reported in the park, in addition to 21 grand larcenies, 10 misdemeanor assaults, two sex crimes and one felony assault.
Data also show that the 26th Precinct, which includes the park, Barnard College and Columbia University, has also seen a general rise in crime. That includes robberies, sex crimes, assaults and burglaries.
Two weeks before Majors was mugged and murdered, a 25-year-old man was reportedly approached by someone wearing a ski mask and holding a pocket knife. The victim was able to escape before anything was stolen.
And in mid-October, police arrested two teenage boys – 16 and 17 years old – for two robberies, according to the report. The teens had flashed a gun and stole an Apple Watch, a mobile phone and two wallets.
Two teen suspects also allegedly attacked parkgoers in May within a span of 30 minutes; the assailants assaulted the victims and stole $300 collectively in cash. Those cases resulted in charges against a 14-year-old boy and 17-year-old boy.
A man was also assaulted on April 17 inside the park around 4:30 p.m. The attack left him unconscious and with a traumatic brain injury, according to the newspaper.
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