NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – It’s now been more than a month since Barnard College freshman Tessa Majors was murdered and there are renewed calls for more safety in the area.
The community came together to address their ongoing concerns in Morningside Heights on Wednesday night, reports CBS2’s Valerie Castro from the meeting.
The memorial has weathered a bit, but the life of 18-year-old Majors has not been forgotten. The freshman was stabbed to death in December by three teenage suspects, according to police.
The killing highlighted an ongoing issue with crime in the park, including a spike in robberies over the previous year.
“Sometimes it takes something really awful to get something positive, and that’s basically what I hope will happen tonight,” said local resident Diane Pollard.Wednesday’s community forum was held for residents to voice their concerns and suggest solutions for the future.
“I think what we’re learning tonight is public safety is obviously a concern, we want more police presence,” said resident Kevin Cruickshank.
Since the killing, the NYPD has started 24/7 patrols in the park. Six light towers have been installed along with six cameras.
Residents hope the visible changes are sustainable.
“Cops have to get out of their cars, stop sitting around in your car,” said resident Michael Jackson. “We have lights, we have some of those emergency lights that they said, you gotta keep them gassed up because when they don’t come on at night, you’re just not effectively policing.”
The hope for a long-term solution highlights the fact that all three suspects teenagers.
“Over the years our attention to after school programs and employment for youth during the summer has really diminished,” said Pollard. “I’m not making excuses for the crime but I’m saying if there’s an alternative perhaps they can work.”
In the Majors case, one 13-year-old was arrested and charged in connection with the crime. He allegedly confessed to being there when she was repeatedly stabbed.
Two other 14-year-olds were questioned but released. Sources say DNA found on the knife needs further testing to pinpoint the actual killer.
“We received all the items regarding DNA working closely with the manhattan DA’s office,” said NYPD Chief Rodney Harrison.
The forum’s success will be measured by what happens next.
“I hope they’re able to glean some useful information from what we’re saying and actually act upon it in an ongoing permanent manner,” said Jackson.
Anyone with information about the Tessa Majors case is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or 1-888-57-PISTA (74782) for Spanish. You can also submit a tip via the Crime Stoppers website, by tweeting @NYPDTips or by texting 274637.