A Barnard freshman was killed during an armed robbery in a New York City park Wednesday evening, according to police and school officials.
The New York Police Department is seeking a suspect in the murder of Tessa Majors, 18, of Virginia, who went to Barnard, a women’s college affiliated with Columbia University in the neighborhood of Morningside Heights in upper Manhattan.
Police received reports of an assaulted female in Morningside Park, not far from Barnard’s campus, at about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to the NYPD. They found Majors with stab wounds on multiple parts of her body, and she was brought to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Police did not have a suspect or suspects as of Wednesday night. A law enforcement source told NBC New York that a witness saw a group of people running from where Majors was found by a security guard.
A text alert sent to Barnard students said one male suspect was wearing a green jacket and a hat. A Barnard statement said Majors was a victim of an armed robbery.
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Morningside Park was closed Thursday morning as police investigated the killing, according to a tweet on the park’s account. “We are heart broken,” the tweet said. “Our deepest condolences go out to her family and friends.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said officials would provide an update on the investigation on Thursday morning. “We will find the perpetrators of this crime and bring them to justice,” de Blasio wrote in a tweet.
“We’ve lost a young woman full of potential in a senseless act of violence,” the mayor said. “I want every student and every member of faculty to know your city will be with you in the days ahead.”
Barnard President Sian Leah Beilock said in a statement that Majors’ family was traveling to New York from Virginia.
“This is an unthinkable tragedy that has shaken us to our core. Please know that we are all grieving together and I am thinking of you as we process this awful news as a community,” Beilock said. “Tessa was just beginning her journey at Barnard and in life. We mourn this devastating murder of an extraordinary young woman and member of our community.”
Additional counseling services for students would be available Thursday, and the school’s public safety division offers round-the-clock escort services to students, the statement said.
Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger said additional counseling services would also be made available on that campus.
“On behalf of the entire Columbia community, I send my deepest condolences to Tessa’s family, the Barnard community, and all who knew and loved her. Columbia stands in sympathy with Barnard,” Bollinger said.
Majors played in a band and had recently played her first gig in New York City, according to her Instagram. She graduated from St. Anne’s-Belfield School in Charlottesville this year before beginning at Barnard, according to an obituary in the Augusta Free Press, where she interned in spring.
Majors’ father, an author and professor at James Madison University, often posted on Facebook about her accomplishments in music and her young career.
“18 years ago today my life got redefined in all the right ways when this little bundle of fun came into the world,” he wrote on her birthday in May. “Happy Birthday to Tessa Rane Majors, a fantastic young lady. I can’t wait to see what the next 18 years have in store.”