NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A man stood accused Monday of beating his 74-year-old neighbor to death inside the elevator of their Bronx apartment building.
Police said they were called to the building at 2824 University Ave. in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx just after 3 p.m. on Sunday. They found Felix Rodriguez unconscious and unresponsive on the floor of the building’s elevator.
Rodriguez was taken to NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Rodriguez’s neighbor, 57-year-old Joaquin Feliciano, was arrested and charged with first-degree manslaughter in the death.
A preliminary investigation indicated the two got into a quarrel over how long one of the men held the elevator door open, 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reported.
According to police and witnesses, Feliciano was holding the elevator for another man, Julio Estella, while he loaded his groceries. When Estella walked into his own apartment, Rodriguez allegedly began shouting at Feliciano, ‘What took so long?’”
“I felt bad in the beginning, but I was coming in with groceries. So you know, how can I feel bad about it? I feel bad for both parties,” Estella said. “There’s 42 units in the building. And of course, you’ll have to wait just one elevator.”
Witnesses said Rodriguez threw the first punch, Schuck reported. At one point during the fight, police said Rodriguez was put into a sleeper hold and later died.
While being escorted from the scene, Feliciano reportedly bragged about how he pummeled Rodriguez.
As CBS2’s Emily Smith reported, Rodriguez’s longtime companion, Martha Torres, could not believe what happened.
“He was such a nice guy,” she said. “He didn’t deserve that.”
Torres said Rodriguez recently had a stroke, which had made him more impatient lately.
“Felix was capable of pressing your buttons… so I don’t know what the altercation was,” she said.
Alleged assailant Feliciano is a former U.S. Marine and father of a three year old boy.
“He knew he was going to kill him when he punched him. He knew it!” Torres said. “He’s a trained Marine!”
And a small, but meaningful memorial set up in front of the building is a testament to the kind of person Rodriguez was, according to Torres.
“He was a very generous spirit,” she said before breaking down crying and adding, “I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”
Police would not elaborate, but said Feliciano has nine prior arrests — mostly involving drugs.
No one answered the door Monday at Feliciano’s sixth-floor apartment. But those missing Rodriguez said they are expecting justice to be served.
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