1 Dead, 1 Hospitalized After Knife Fight At Harlem Homeless Shelter

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A fight between two roommates inside a homeless shelter in Harlem turned deadly Friday morning.

It happened inside a shelter for men with alcohol, drug and mental health problems at 149 W. 132nd St., which is run by the nonprofit Bowery Residents Committee.

Police said the two men got into a dispute in their fifth-floor apartment using kitchen knives, CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported.

Police say the two roommates pulled out kitchen knives during a dipute. A 44-year-old was killed, and a 39-year-old was critically injured. No charges had been filed as of Friday evening.

A shelter resident, who did not want to give his name, said he heard the fight just after 7 a.m. and that it sounded like somebody fell out of bed.

“I heard something go boom,” the man said, adding that he does not feel safe in the shelter.

Neighbors told CBS2 the block is home to at least three different homeless shelters, and some say the shelter where the incident happened is a constant source of trouble.

“Anytime there’s an ambulance, a fire engine or a police car, we are worried that something happened, and unfortunately now something really bad happened, and that’s scary,” said Francesco Fabba, who has lived on the block since 2009.

He pointed to empty liquor bottles littering the sidewalk as evidence of the ongoing trouble and fear shelter residents cause.

“We try to cope as much as we can with that,” Fabba said.

“Maybe you try to walk on this side of the street and not that side, depends on who’s outside the building,” he added.

Others on the gentrifying street, which includes million-dollar brownstones, say the shelter residents don’t frighten them, that they’re just regular people struggling with mental health issues and trying to get some help.

“Most of them are very kind to me,” said neighbor Moneke Coates. “I’ve never felt threatened.”

Coates said the shelter was there long before a new wave of wealthier people moved in.

“It’s just that they want them out of here,” she said. “It doesn’t look good for them.”

Community activist Iesha Sekou understands both sides, but said the city needs more affordable housing and the homeless system needs to do more screening.

“Mental illness has to definitely be addressed before people are going into shelters,” Sekou said. “We have to assess whether or not there is a danger to other people.”

The Bowery Residents Committee would not go on camera. In an email statement to CBS2, the organization said that it is saddened by what happened.

More From CBS New York

CELEBRATING 50 YEARS
Get Our Morning Briefs
Bloomberg WCBS Tri-State Business Index

Watch & Listen LIVE