Two wheelchair-bound men in an East Village shelter got into a name-calling argument early today that ended with one man stabbed dead and cops struggling to explain why they missed a chance to break up the fatal feud with an arrest.
The deadly episode began around 3:30 a.m. when the men, both paralyzed, got into an argument in the cafeteria of Freedom House on East 2nd Street.
Others at the shelter said the victim, Ronal Garcia, 24, "had a really foul mouth," and would often get into arguments with older residents.
The alleged stabber, Felipe Cruz, 52, had been drinking and had a bad reputation for being a hothead when he consumed alcohol.
"[Cruz] was talking about his [Garcia’s] genitals — you have a short one this, you have a short one that," said Garcia’s roommate, Norbert Toledo.
That prompted Garcia to remove the footrest from his wheelchair and strike Cruz with it twice on the head, knocking him out of his chair.
"[Shelter officials] called the police in. They saw Felipe on the floor. Felipe told police he was hurt, but the police just thought he was drunk and fell out of his chair," said Toledo.
"Felipe pointed out cameras and said he wanted to press charges. But the cops just sent the boy [Garcia] upstairs."
After they left, Cruz, who used a motorized wheelchair, went to his room and got a homemade knife.
In a shelter hallway, Cruz zoomed up to Garcia, who had a slower manual wheelchair, and stabbed him repeatedly. A security guard wrested the knife away from Felipe.
‘I killed that motherf——-," Cruz was overheard saying.
Garcia was rushed to Beth Israel Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 4:20 a.m. Cruz was arrested and charged with murder.
In a statement, police insisted that the officers left because no one had wanted to press charges.
"The police went there and they spoke to both of them and no one wanted to press charges. The police left and they were called back when they started fighting again," a department spokesman said.
Toledo said Garcia hailed from the Bronx and had moved into the facility – which is run by the city’s Department of Homeless Services – about a month ago. He said Garcia was paralyzed after being shot eight times last year in a drug-deal-gone-bad.
"He was a street punk thug. He got here because he was shot eight times. He had a really foul mouth. We’ve had words. I told him he had to respect his elders. I have a son his age," Toledo said.
He described Cruz – who comes from Puerto Rico and had lived at the facility for at least a year — as "a nice guy except when he drinks."
Toledo said the house had good facilities for its 48 residents – all of whom are disabled – but not everyone was a pleasure to live with.
"It’s a privilege to be placed here but it is not a privilege to live here," he said.
The Department of Homeless Services said it was investigating "the circumstances surrounding the death," but could not comment any further.
Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/deadly_wheelchair_stabbing_in_east_frnUCl5qj7zINxVqpByVlK#ixzz0aAyFifT2
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