The mayor of New York City has slammed "heartless" claims that a stabbing murder of a young female college student had to do with her attempting to "buy marijuana", calling the allegations "infuriating" in a statement.
Bill de Blasio spoke out on Sunday about the reportedly unfounded claims that Tessa Majors, an 18-year-old Barnard College student, was at the Morningside Park near campus to buy marijuana.
“Think of Tessa’s parents, her friends”, Mr de Blasio wrote in a tweet on Sunday. “This is heartless. It’s infuriating.”
The mayor added: “We don’t shame victims in this city.”
Ms Majors was killed on Wednesday night after police said she was attacked near the entrance of Morningside Park at 116th Street and Morningside Drive — an area typically frequented by Barnard College and Columbia University students as they make their way to and from classes and the city subways. Officials said she suffered “multiple stab wounds around the body” and was later pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Think of Tessa’s parents, her friends.
This is heartless.
We don’t shame victims in this city. https://t.co/c3HM9gIvSh
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor)
Mr de Blasio’s comments came after New York Police Department Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins told a radio outlet: “What I am understanding is that [Ms Majors] was in the park to buy marijuana.”
He added: “Here we have a student murdered by a 13-year-old, we have a common denominator: marijuana.”
But police sources have denied the college student was buying weed in the park at the time of her death, the New York Daily News reported during the weekend.
At least one person has been arrested in the case so far, police said. A 13-year-old boy was charged with felony murder, the Associated Press reported, and another 14-year-old was interviewed by police, according to the New York Times.
Officials reportedly believe as many as three suspects were involved in Ms Majors’ death.
Ms Majors, a Virginia resident who was finishing her first semester in college, was reportedly interested in journalism and performed in a band called Patient 0.
Her family said in a statement: “We lost a very special, very talented, and very well-loved young woman … Tess shone bright in this world, and our hearts will never be the same.”
Ms Majors’ family also responded to the union chief’s comments, saying in a statement: “The remarks by Sergeants Benevolent Association president Ed Mullins we find deeply inappropriate, as they intentionally or unintentionally direct blame onto Tess, a young woman, for her own murder.”
“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 statement continued.
The Barnard College and Columbia University student communities have held multiple vigils in recent days for the slain student, gathering near the entrance of the park where she was killed.
Columbia University’s public safety office said in a statement to the student community it had “enhanced public safety presence” along Morningside Drive, adding: “The NYPD investigation is ongoing and we are receiving regular updates.”
The NYPD did not immediately respond to requests for comment.