The family of a New York City college student fatally stabbed in a city park last week is blasting a police union head for claiming the young woman was in the park to buy marijuana. Tessa Majors, an 18-year-old freshman at Barnard College, died after being stabbed in Morningside Park on Wednesday night.
Police 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 correspondent Errol Barnett reported.
Police said Majors was able to stagger her way up a set of stairs where a school security guard came to her aid and called 911. She later died at a hospital. The NYC medical examiner said Monday that she suffered stab wounds to the torso and ruled her death a homicide.
On Sunday, Sergeants Benevolent Association president Ed Mullins drew outrage when he told radio host and businessman John Catsimatidis: “We have an 18-year-old college student at one of the most prestigious universities in the country murdered in a park. What I’m understanding is she was in the park to buy marijuana.”
In a statement released Monday to the New York Daily News, Majors’ family called the comments “deeply inappropriate, as they intentionally or unintentionally direct blame onto Tess, a young woman, for her own murder.” Police have not said why Majors was in the park and have not mentioned any potential drug link. The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment from CBS News on Monday.
“We would ask Mr. Mullins not to engage in such irresponsible public speculation, just as the NYPD asked our family not to comment as it conducts the investigation,” the family statement continued.
Mullins pointed to a “hands-off” enforcement of marijuana laws in New York, where possession of a small amount of the drug is now enforced as a violation rather than a criminal offense.
“Think about that — we don’t enforce marijuana laws anymore, we’re basically hands off on enforcement of marijuana. Here we have a student murdered by a 13-year-old and the common denominator is marijuana. My question to the people of New York City is — why is this happening?”
Mullins is an outspoken critic of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has supported the legalization of recreational marijuana. Critics on social media suggested Mullins was using the young woman’s murder to further his political agenda.
In response to the family’s statement, Mullins told the Daily News his comments were directed at de Blasio, not Majors.
“I can’t imagine what [the family is] going through,” Mullins said.
De Blasio on Twitter called Mullins’ comments “heartless” and “infuriating.”
“We don’t shame victims in this city,” de Blasio said.
Majors was a musician and aspiring journalist.
The 13-year-old suspect is being charged as a juvenile with felony second degree murder, robbery and possession of a weapon, Barnett reports. Barnett reports another teen was questioned and a third is being sought. The 13-year-old is due back in family court Tuesday.