NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The NYPD on Tuesday was trying to identify a person of interest in a Brooklyn home invasion that is blamed for the death of a 91-year-old man.
As CBS2’s Valerie Castro reported, the victim and his 100-year-old wife were tied up inside their home in Bedford-Stuyvesant last week. The wife survived the ordeal, but the man died a short time later.
In surveillance images and video released Tuesday, a man with a backpack causally walks down the street and carries what appears to be a black box in his right hand.
Police said four thieves tied up 91-year-old Waldiman Thompson and his 99-year-old wife, Ethlin, in their Bedford-Stuyvesant home last week. The couple owns the building and collects rent from tenants.
Once the thieves left, Ethlin wiggled free from her restraints and called police.
“The officers entered the apartment and found her 91-year-old husband tied up and lying on the floor and he was unresponsive,” NYPD Deputy Chief Michael Kemper said.
Neighbors were alarmed by the incident.
“The whole situation has been very disheartening,” said neighbor Lucinda Benjamin. “This is a beautiful couple. They kind of illuminate what it means to be married for so long.”
Neighbors said Ethlin and Waldiman Thompson were fixtures on the brownstone block, having lived there for decades.
“To see that love torn apart by senseless crime like this it was just heartless,” Benjamin said.
Sources told CBS2 the suspects were likely searching for a large sum of cash in the form of payments that had yet to be deposited to the bank.
The New York City Medical Examiner’s office ruled that Waldiman died from heart problems that were triggered by the incident — specifically, sudden cardiac death following home invasion with robbery and restraint in a person with hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
Ethlin bravely returned home last week. In the days since, flowers have been left outside the home and funeral arrangements have been made.
But no one has been held accountable for the crime yet.
“I’m asking the people who are watching the video, please watch and if you know anything, please call it in,” Benjamin said.
Ethlin Thompson, neighbors say, is a woman of great faith. Although they admire her forgiving nature, they also want justice.
“Ms. Thompson herself says she has forgiven them, but at the same time — it’s forgiven, but you can’t let this go unchecked,” Benjamin said.
The NYPD is now offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest and indictment.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stopper Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or for Spanish 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). You can also submit tips on the Crime Stoppers Website or by texting them to 274637(CRIMES) then entering TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.