An argument in an assisted-living residence at 270 E. Second St. between two men in wheelchairs turned violent in the early hours of Sat., Dec. 19, and one of them stabbed the other to death, police said.
The suspect, Felipe Rivera-Cruz, 51, plunged a folding knife four times into the chest of the victim, Ronal Garcia, 24, at 4:12 a.m. in a second-floor hallway of the four-story Barrier Free Living residence between Avenues C and D, according to the complaint filed by the Manhattan district attorney. Garcia was taken to Beth Israel Medical Center with several other stab wounds in addition to the four fatal ones, and was declared dead soon after.
The stabbing, which staff members saw in progress on a surveillance monitor, followed an argument an hour or so earlier when the victim had made fun of the suspect, according to reports. Police also responded to the earlier call, but said it was just an argument with no injuries and neither party wanted to file charges. However, a New York Times report quoted a witness as saying the suspect had sustained a cut on his forehead during the earlier incident, and the victim had phoned his family in the Bronx between the first and second calls.
A security guard, who got to the scene too late to prevent the stabbing, observed the folding knife in the suspect’s hand, took it from him, and then called 911, the complaint says.
The nonprofit Barrier Free Living residence, operated under contract to the city, is one of the few that are completely accessible to wheelchairs. A spokesperson for the Department of Homeless Services said the city is investigating the circumstances of the stabbing.
Rivera-Cruz was held on charges of second-degree murder and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon pending a Dec. 24 court appearance
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