NEW YORK (AP/CBSNewYork) – A Nicaraguan diplomat whose throat had been slashed was found dead Wednesday by his driver, who was picking him up for the United Nations General Assembly’s annual meeting.
LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports
Cesar Mercado was found at 10:35 a.m. in his apartment in the Bronx. The driver found the door ajar and Mercado’s body lying just inside the blood-spattered apartment, police said.
“The knife was found on the floor next to him,” said Paul Browne, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for public information.
“He was just like a respectful, professional person…and very quiet person,” one neighbor told 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa.
Altamara Vargas lived on the same floor as Mercado and was asked by CBS 2′s Pablo Guzman if it was common knowledge in the complex that the 34-year-old was an UN official from Nicaragua.
“Yes I heard about it, that he was a big person from there,” Vargas said.
Police were investigating, and no suspects were immediately identified. Investigators were looking into Mercado’s recent contacts, his relationships and where he had been during the days leading up to the slaying. A motive remained unclear.
“He had no enemies. He was loved by everyone who knew him,” a friend, Amparo Amador, said in Spanish. “When I first heard of his death, I thought he must’ve died from natural causes because there would be no way he could be killed.”
Papa reported that the building had no security guards.
The surveillance cameras outside the apartment building may be of no use according to longtime residents who said many of the cameras did not work.
“I don’t think they’re operational at all,” neighbor Cesar Rodriguez said.
Mercado came to the U.S. in 2001 to work as an assistant in the office of Nicaragua’s ambassador to the United Nations, the friend said. He was single, and his family was in Nicaragua.
Leaders from 192 nations were in town for the General Assembly, including Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who is a fierce critic of the United States and a defender of North Korea and Iran. President Barack Obama addressed the General Assembly on Thursday.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)