Eighteen-year-old Barnard Freshman Tessa Majors, killed in a robbery on Wednesday night, was a musician from Charlottseville, Virginia who played in two bands and had interned at a newspaper last summer.
“My band, Patient 0, has an album coming out tonight at midnight!! This is very exciting, and it’s basically a showcase of all my favorite songs I wrote in high school with Hannah,” she wrote on Instagram in September. The album is on Spotify.
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Majors also interned as a reporter for the Augusta Free Press in Waynesboro, Virginia. “I’ve always loved writing,” she said on a podcast at the time. “I’ve been writing in various forms since I was a little kid. Journalism was a field that I never delved into before… but I thought it would be a really interesting experience.”
She was killed in Morningside Park at 116th Street early Wednesday evening in an armed robbery. Majors was stabbed several times. She went to a guard booth near the park, and the guard called 911, Columbia University said. Police had not arrested anyone as of Thursday morning, and Columbia public safety said that two to three people involved had run away south through Morningside Park after the incident.
“While we don’t have all of the information yet, it’s clear that security in Morningside Park needs to be a priority going forward,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
Earlier this year, a series of “sucker-punch” attacks in the park had neighbors on edge.
The Columbia community mourned Majors, and students were offered counseling.
“Dean Grinage and I have spoken to her parents and Tessa’s family is enroute to NYC,” wrote Barnard President Sian Leah Beilock in an email to students. “We are also in close touch with the New York Police Department as they conduct this on-going investigation and seek to identify the assailant in this horrible attack.”
Correction: Initial reports that the guard was not there when Majors went to the guard station were incorrect, Columbia says. “The officer was at his post and came to the student’s aid immediately upon recognizing that she was hurt.“
This sad news has cast a pall on the holiday season. There are no words for her parents.
There have been a series of muggings in Morningside Park. Bob Lederer has a traumatic brain injury from one in April. No increased police presence? No arrests? The precinct commander needs to be replaced.
This is terrible, but what we need to do is understand the motives behind these terrible events. What is it about society that allows young people to think that such antisocial behavior is acceptable? What social outreach can be done at the General Grant Homes to help the residents understand that this is not an alternative to a personally fulfilling life as a contributing member of society.?! (I read in the “Daily News that someone from the General Grant Homes” is in custody).
Barnard and Columbia have enough stake in the area that they should take the lead in understanding why these things happen, stop the criminalization and what has to change to keep them from happening again.
Now that a 13-year old boy has been arrested, carrying a knife, maybe the knife of the crime, and has admitted to being at least a party to the murder, Devin Gs comments about understanding better the dynamics behind such a tragedy are not as “appalling” and flaky liberal as some knee-jerk vigilantes here seem to think. A thirteen year-old boy. This very much speaks to the need to understand much better what is going on in the community. Apparently, “outreach” is a dirty word to the Dirty Harry’s here. The crime will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. But that one of the perpetrators was 13 years old, liberals and conservatives alike need to be smarter and more proactive about how to make things better. Thank you, Devin G for reminding us of that.
I’m sorry to see everyone being so critical of Devin’s comment. The attack was executed by people I consider “children,” a 13 year old boy. Really? Such sick behavior and the fact that he ran with kids who robbed people reflects such a break down in a child’s upbringing and mental and emotional state that it merits great reflection and action on the part of all of us. I’m the mother of a vibrant 15 year old daughter, so I live in a constant state of awareness regarding threats to my child. I’m grieving for the beautiful young woman who was killed for walking through a park in OUR neighborhood. I’m certainly not in favor of weakening the power of the police or criminal justice system. However, we do need to take a look at why it feels like groups of young kids mugging elderly ladies in the west 70s and now committing murder in Morningside Park seem to be on the increase.
“understand the motives behind these terrible events.”
How about a robbery gone terribly bad.
We’re slipping back to the ’80s. These terrible events in the UWS are being reported more and more frequently and it is fact the crime in NYC for various reasons is severly underreported. Can’t wait to see what happens when the Criminal Justice Reform Law goes into effect next year.
ARE we going back to the 80s? I was a kid then – but I do recall the late 80s and all the glass on RSD and the prostitutes using the alcoves to meet with clients. It isn’t the 80s. I just don’t know if there is an increase in crime it if, due to blogs, we are talking about it more is there more crime, or do we perceive it as such due to talking about it more?
I cannot imagine how sad this girl’s family must be. All condolences.
Lifelong UWS, I wish I could “like” your post.
There is obviously a serious problem going on in the neighborhood, but no, this is not the 80’s.
Suggesting that we decriminalize murder is a non-starter.
But I do agree that Columbia/Barnard have a stake in the community, and an opportunity. My daughter went to Wesleyan in Middletown, CT. The campus is adjacent to subsidized housing. My daughter and many other students volunteered to mentor groups and individuals at an after school program at the projects. She stayed in touch for years (maybe still?) with the young girl she mentored. It was good for the Wes students and good for the kids they worked with. Wesleyan also provides scholarships for students in the neighborhood.
Reaching economically disadvantaged kids early is a very good idea. Not treating murder as a horrendous crime is a terrible idea.
I am so sorry for the loss of this young woman. Tessa sounds like a wonderful and talented person.
My daughter attends Barnard and two of her high school friends attend Wesleyan. I am trying to understand your comment. As a freshman, my daughter (a science major, not on track for law school) volunteered for a legal defense non-profit. Not connected, she has spent many weekends at Wesleyan. It is a known campus to her. To imply that Columbia University/Barnard College an institution that is meant to educate undergrads and post-grads is also somehow responsible for the influencing the violence that was perpetrated on Tess is puzzling at best to me. There are many opportunities for our students to engage in the community beyond the university walls. Your comment implies the university isn’t present in Morningside Heights.
I am appalled at this comment:
1. “terrible, but” is dismissive of the crime.
2. “Motives” are important, but exploring “what is it about society” will not lead to an individual’s motive, but to potential /opportunities for social change — at least 2 stages removed from the crime.
3. “stop the criminalization” — of assault, battery and (presumably) manslaughter?!! This was a heinous crime, and perpetrator(s) are criminals who should be punished.
4. Jumps the gun on assuming Daily News report accurately identifies suspects.
5. Assuming GG Homes is accurate, why presume that that is the best location for social intervention?
6. Assault/battery as “an alternative to personally fulfilling life …”??!!! This is contentless New Age speech!
7. “These things” don’t simply “happen”. They are willed. Theft arising from poverty/lack of opportunity/despair is different than assault/battery. Shame on you!
You are clearly right that this was an awful, evil crime. There is no question but that this is the kind of crime that disrupts the very fabric of society, not to mention destroying a family and stealing the future of a promising young woman in the most brutal fashion.
At the same time – and this is not a “but” or a qualifier to the horrific nature of what was done – time and again, focusing *only* on punishment has proven ineffective. Punishment is required, but the larger societal issues must also be addressed, because punishment is not enough. Something has caused these teenagers to devalue human life to the point that we have repeated crimes, any one of which could have resulted in something this terrible. If we don’t figure out why, it will not end.
I suspect that the sense that they won’t be caught or punished does make it easier for kids to get started behaving this way, and so the current atmosphere may well be being misread by teenagers (never the most intelligent risk assessors) to think that they will get away with it or won’t be punished simply because there is an effort to bring more fairness to the policing process. But no one – no matter how liberal – supports allowing anyone (including kids) to run around murdering people. But there is something more, something that is not only leaving adults feeling so disconnected from one another that they can not only indulge in mindless insults on neighborhood blogs without shame or consequence, but leaving kids viewing other people as so unimportant that they can rob from them at will. Desperation and feelings of injustice undoubtedly are an element of this, but that is not an excuse or a complete explanation. Something else is going on in our country, and if we don’t figure it out, this will not get better.
None of that changes the fact that this young person was murdered brutally by a couple of teenagers, and that those teenagers must pay the price. We may quibble over exactly how high that price should be, but I don’t think anyone is denying it should be paid.
Thank you, for your comment, David. I agree with you wholeheartedly. Horrible horrible crime. Hope the murderers get caught ASAP!
Your response to Devin is perfect. His is the typical UWS liberal response
It’s called racism.
Devin G. seems well-intentioned, but this is not a reasonable comment:
“What social outreach can be done at the General Grant Homes to help the residents understand that this is not an alternative to a personally fulfilling life as a contributing member of society.?!”
this is establishing collective blame. Even if the perpetrator of this horrible, and very very sad, act came from Grant Houses, why would you believe that 99.9% of the residents do not understand that crime is not an “alternative”?
In the last year or so, we had a murder on W. 95th, around the corner from where i live. Both the victim and the perpetrator lived in the same luxury co-op. Would anyone write that we need “social outreach” to the residents of that co-op so they could understand that murder is not an “alternative to a personally fulfilling life as a contributing member of society”?
The murder on West 95th Street and the string of violent robberies in the area have not been committed by gangs of kids from a fancy co-op. And last I heard, there are no mini gang wars firing shots between luxury condo buildings. Most of these problems come from the public housing projects. So why are you so against trying to address what’s causing this behavior? I’m sure the residents themselves wouldn’t mind a little help – the vast majority suffer from crimes like this way more than you or I do.
Shocked to hear. How awful. Has anyone else noticed that there is more and more crime lately. And that the politicians and police are not telling us what is actually going on.
People keep saying that there is an uptick in crime, but this is fear-mongering. Statistics do not support this uptick. Violent crime is amazingly low. For those that keep pushing this false narrative, I would like to know your reasoning behind it. Is it for political gain? Simple stupidity and inability to find out the truth for yourself? Or is it just a lack of care for the truth? For whatever reason, it is a real shame. As Liifeoong UWS says above, we are not matching the 80s and 90s.
Yesterday I saw two cops on the top of Barclay Center stairs from subway, one holding a large Coke cup, the other both hands occupied with Coke and food. How long will it take them to pull their guns out? Obviously they were on duty.
Yesterday 68th and Broadway, two cops sitting in their patrol car intensely occupied with their phones. They wouldn’t know a bomb dropped next to it.
We first have to make the best use of what we have. It starts with the alert police under strong leadership.
Are you kidding? Murder is up 10% rape is up as well. The only reason they say crime is down is because they decriminalized smaller offensives so the city looks good
Really? I’m looking right now at the statistics for the 26th precinct, where this murder happened. Murder is up 10% from when to when? All I see is statistics that are flat or have decreased. Murder is down almost 92% since 1990. 50% since 2010. It will have gone up, once this murder is included in the stats by 100% over last year, because it will have gone from 1 to 2. Rape is also down. So where is this falling sky of yours?
Yes thats what quite a few readers have been saying but the majority of readers will argue that NYC is as safe as ever.
So very sorry to hear about this It is so unfair.
“Stop the criminalization” — I am not sure what you mean by that. I hope you mean stop people from committing criminal acts, and not that we should refrain from labeling such acts as criminal acts.
This is just horrible to hear. My heart goes out to her family.
And yes, I have noticed an uptick in crime. Don’t know if it’s accurate but it’s very scary.
Also, Morningside Park has always been known for crime. Given that, I’m shocked that Columia U doesn’t have more than one guard working there. At minimum, there should be two. If one had been making rounds and the other in the booth, her life might’ve been saved.
When I was a kid, I was told never to walk alone in Morningside Park and especially not at night. Doesn’t Columbia prepare its incoming freshmen for real life in Manhattan. Morningside has never been correctly patrolled. Like never. Terrible tragedy for all of us.
It was 5:30p. I live right next to Morningside Park, and would have done the same. Dont blame the victim
Absolutely devastating. There are no words.
This park has not been safe for years. I used to hike there, bird watch, just hang out, but I never go anymore. I have said for years, put up cameras, take this park back. My heart goes out to this woman’s family. Everyone should’ve been warned not to go to this park alone. Especially students who don’t know the danger.
There are cameras. They have this on camera.
Totally outrageous. My 18-year-old daughter also lost her life. The pain is neverending.
I’m sorry for your loss.
Horrifying. Tragic. Incomprehensible. And utterly unnecessary. My heart goes out to her family.
Horrific!!!!! so sorry……………………
That Park has always been unsafe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Terrible… I am too sad and angry and upset.
Neal H. Hurwitz CC’66 former faculty GSAS
Friends of Morningside Park supporter since 1962… 🙁 🙁 🙁
It’s heartbreaking. All the strides we’ve made during the last 25 years have gone down the tubes. “Progressive” politicians that are either too young to have lived through the bad old days (or are too old to remember them) are more interested in reducing the prison population than actually reducing crime.
Even if deterring crime has become a dirty concept, we at least had been able to count on long jail sentences to keep criminals off the streets.
This new era of decriminalization and “justice reform” has upended our safety and created an anything-goes atmosphere, and and we will all be paying the price for a long time.
What a tragedy. My heart goes out to her family. This is going to look very bad for Columbia Univ. who immediately needs to take some of that billion dollar endowment and beef up their security personnel numbers patrolling in and around Morningside Park, and to install panic call buttons. Hopefully they had street cameras that caught something. I was looking at purchasing an apt. around there. Not anymore.
What? Columbia doesn’t own Morningside Park – it’s a public space. They don’t have any duty to patrol inside the park.
Sadly, the beautiful Morningside Park has been allowed to fall on horrible times. Its reputation is that it is not a safe place to walk through, especially after dark. Do Barnard, Columbia, JTS and other institutions of higher learning make their new students aware of the realities of their new temporary neighborhood? I hope they do.
Neal H. Hurwitz
Friends of Morningside Park support since 1962
CC’66, former faculty GSAS
We used MP for softball but the place has never been safe… So sorry— this is a terrible crime and loss!!!!!
So tragic. And I can’t believe this was around 5:45 p.m. in Morningside Park. I’ve felt unsafe in the North Woods area of central park near dark, but I so rarely think of small parks as being problematic that early in the evening.
North Woods is beautiful and sadly NOT safe even in broad daylight if you are by yourself. This year there was an attempted mugging at the hour of 2pm as reported by the Post or the Daily News, can’t recall which. I have personally been followed myself in daylight hours.
Stop the criminalization, Devin ??????? Throw away the damn keys!!
So very sad😢
A promising, bright light is murdered but the perpetrators need to be understood. I guess my 80 years is not long enough to get my head around the current thinking.
You’re absolutely right. There is nothing to “understand” about this brutal and senseless act of violence and the perps should pay the ultimate price if they ever get caught. Time to reflect just how “safe” the city is according to the pols.
Columbia University statement:
“The public safety officer assigned to 116th Street and Morningside Drive was at his post last night when the victim emerged from the park, and he came to her aid immediately upon recognizing that she was injured. Reports to the contrary are inaccurate. Officers stationed at this location do not make rounds that cause them to leave their post.”
I TOTALLY agree with you, Joanne!
Very sad, but somehow it’s always the “misunderstood” murderers!
Choices are choices and evil is evil.
My love to her family.
Terrible news. I’m afraid to say it is time for NYers to return to the defensive street tactics of days gone by. Avoid being where there are no other people. Avoid walking on the edge of a park when the sun goes down. It is no longer “okay.” The risks are higher because, plain and simple, there are more criminals among us than before. Why? That’s up for debate. What is not up for debate is how to take care of yourself. Be smart. Be extra careful. It might take some of the fun out of being in New York but we’ve all been here before. Pay attention to your surroundings.
That particular stretch of area is known for being unlit, which allows for drug activity. In the past, it was an area where Columbia Students would go for a quick score.
May God rest her soul.
This is so terrible. I can’t believe it happened so early in the evening either. I live not far from the park and I’ve always known not to walk through it at night (I once did, but I RAN across it), now I will be even more careful.
Last Saturday night there were two very distressed looking pitbulls barking at people alone in the park and I walked by with my partner and the cops were trying to get control of them safely. What’s going on in that park lately??
Remember: if somebody tries to rob you, give them your wallet and then cancel your cards when you’ve safely gotten away. Who carries much cash anymore anyways?
This is horrible and tragic. Her poor parents. It’s a shame nobody else was nearby that could have helped her. To think, you can die all alone on the street at that time of day in this crowded city. I feel like I just read a story from 30+ years ago.
Absolutely heartbreaking. I can’t imagine what her parents are going through. Hoping the police find the perps ASAP.
Senseless and horribly sad. I am not a “sky is falling” person, but anyone not noticing an uptick in crime is delusional. We are always told that most murders in the City are gang related. This hits home for every person with a child. It kind of reminds me of the Brian Watkin’s murder. Random and scary.
Ny heart hurts for her parents and her family. She was beautiful, talented and could have been anything she could have imagined. The loss is staggering.
I first moved to NYC right after college in 1973. During rough times for this City. They went bankrupt, cops lost their jobs, teachers made no money, garbage strikes, MTA strikes, sick-outs. And still I stayed. I wanted to be part of the City. I stayed for 13 years and left for a position in another state.
I finally moved back about 6 years ago and I find this town now in nearly the same state it was in the late 70s. Thought I’m paying about 50 times the rents I did when I last lived at 66th & CPW. And I’m on B’way in the 70’s.
Crime is rising. Deaths are a nightly event. The filth is increasing. Store fronts are empty again. Mugging, sucker punching & break-in are up. And I think I’ve had it.
When my lease is up – I’m throwing in the towel. I love what’s here. I love the people. I’ll miss my friends & family but I refuse to pay a fortune for the privilege of living in a City that is unable to function.
Deaths are a nightly event?
Any one death is terrible, but please – you remind me of my teenager who turns everyone else’s tragedies into his own trauma as a way of getting sympathy for someone else’s loss. He is getting therapy. It seems to be helping him learn not to do that.
There will be no post-grief for her parents, There will be no flourishing twenties for Tessa. What will there be for the murderers? If we do not understand and act on what begets wonton violence, especially against women, it will continue to repeat itself. It’s worth whatever it takes to know what drove these young men.
🌲 With a sorrowful heart 🌲
God bless Tessa and her family. She was robbed and murdered because she had the audacity to be walking in the park at 5pm!!! I regret NYS no longer has the death penalty. But we’re all supposed to take comfort that, according to the Mayor and PC, NYC is the safest big city in the country. Yet why doesn’t it feel that way? Because it’s NOT!!! Mental patients, drug addicts and alcoholics walk the streets and clutter the sidewalks and subways freely,ignored by cops unless they actually try to harm someone. Instead of stop and frisk, we have “community policing”. And things will get worse on 1/1/20 when the ridiculous no bail policy becomes law. Remember that during the next election.
Human beings allowed to walk freely in the city unless they commit crimes…where will it end??????
Condolences to this young woman’s family. Her loss is tragic. I wish my prediction that I would find the aging racists of the UWS turning out on WSR to lament imaginary crime sprees as a result had proven wrong. Amazing how bright people’s ability to understand stats, or the cognitive distortion involved in “noticing” crime based on news reports, collapses in this one context.
Seriously! I can’t walk down Broadway without being accosted by some bum! Would you walk by yourself at night past one of these projects? If your answer is yes then you are very naive
I study martial arts and any competent teacher will tell you that in case of a mugging just hand over your money and you’ll likely be safe. Don’t try to be a hero.
Usually in a robbery the perpetrator is not looking for serious trouble…he/she just wants to take the money and run.
Eventually more facts will come out as to what exactly happened. I mean, it’s bad enough that someone (or multiple people) allegedly tried to rob this girl….but why physically harm her?
Anyway, very tragic story. Condolences to her family.
By coincidence on Wednesday afternoon, I ran into an NYPD detective from the 20th precinct who canvassing for surveillance video relating to investigating a series of phone snatchings and the assault of delivery persons who resisted giving up their electric bicycles. He stated plainly that he was the only resource dedicated to robbery/burglary in the 20th.
For those of you who have watched the series The Wire the expression “juking the stats” in relationship to crime statistics will be very familiar. I believe that the UWS has seen elevated crime levels recently and that the stats from the NYPD brass are manipulated to portray a more positive image than exists in reality.
NEVER WALK IN ANY PARK ALONE ONCE IT GETS DARK.I have said it many times.I am a retired NYC cop and a life long UWSer.PAY ATTENTION TO THIS IMPORTANT WARNING.
I am a native of Morningside Heights. My late father worked at Columbia for 56 years until he retired in 2017. During my childhood, I remember Morning Drive/Morningside Park as dangerous places to avoid. In the Summer of 1971, my aunt was mugged by a young male who stole her handbag on Morningside Drive and ran down the stairs towards Morningside Park. I left NY for good in 1992 because of crime, racial tensions and a mayor named David Dinkins who allowed racists to drive a Korean grocery in Flatbush out of business and who also visited the family of a drug dealer killed by police. I have live in San Francisco, Phoenix and over the last ten years, in Orange County, California. Even though Rudy Giuliani is not someone I would vote for if he ran for any public office today, I did agree that he did a very good job cleaning up NY during his stewardship as mayor. He even made Times Square more family friendly despite the fact that it used to be a haven for prostitutes, drugs, porno theaters and peep shows. I thought the city was also doing reasonbly well under Michael Bloomberg. Now that the city is under Bill de Blasio, who made running for president his top priority over the welfare of the city, I see the bad old days of NY being incivil and a high crime city, are returning. According to the NY Times, homicides in the city are up 8% from last year.
It’s a shame that all the work Rudy did to turn this city around, and which Bloomberg kept up, has been heavily reversed by this Marxist, self-absorbed, criminal-apologist, anti-cop, lazy mayor.
Dinkins started the clean up.Rudi finished it.
Ever heard of the Crown Heights riots? That was Dinkins.
We need capitol punishment in NY state. Perhaps criminals may think twice before committing a serious offense
Even though I support the death penalty, I never believe it is a deterrent. Criminals never think about consequences when they commit crimes. I support it because I believe law-abiding citizens should have a right to express their outrage when an innocent person is murdered.
I really do hope the schools and institutions in the area warn their students and charges of the risks of that park (and other areas). I lived on Morningside Drive in the 90s. I would NEVER walk through that park except, on occasion, in the broad daylight in the morning to cut to the A train. I instructed visitors to say off the East side of the Drive adjacent to the park, and never go to the rotundas by the stairs (where I have seen numerous drug deals take place). Yes, that area has been gentrified. Folks are buying those brownstones that, for decades, remained shells. New condos are being built. But the gangs still exist, and the new wealth in the areas has provided more opportunity for the gangs.
Gets right back to where are the parents of these kids. Why are 13 year old kids roaming the park with knives. I hold the parents responsible as well as these kids. They committed murder and should pay the ultimate penalty. And dont start preaching about how we need to understand the underlying problem as liberals do. Go over to that development and preach tough words to the community about right and wrong and get right to the point if you want to do something constructive.
Where are the parents of these kids, 13 year old running around with knives and no sense of right and wrong. Go drag that liberal mayor right up to that development and hold a town hall on whats right and wrong I hold the parents and the community there responsible as well.
A murder occurred here.
We should not avoid walking in the parks. That cannot help the safety problem we are facing. But we should not be in the parks at dusk or dark. I would think that everybody would know that, and also know that if you’re mugged, to hand over your stuff. However, all that said, I don’t like to risk being physically assaulted from behind as was Mr. Lederer in the spring of 2019, resulting in terrible injury to him. I guess that would mainly happen, at any time of day or night in…a park… My heart goes out to all who suffer in this traffic crime.
I was a Barnard student and received my acceptance letter in 1975. In our acceptance packet was a letter from Barnard telling us about safety and specifically warning us not to go into Morningside Park and especially after dusk or dark. ON the other hand, many of us frequented Riverside Park during the day, but in the evening, we would walk in there with another person. I am appalled that students are not receiving the same warnings these days.
I’m sure they are. Living and going to school over the last several decades, we must be vigilant ourselves and teach the sane to our children. No park is safe no matter how light it is especially at night and when not many people are around. All schools have safety orientations for their students. Being vigilant and aware of our surroundings and learning the common sense ways of living in NYC is key.
Not Good at all! In fact horrible! NYC POLICE NEED to Parole Parks near UWS Universities –all of them!– 24/7—and all the park areas of RSD need much better after dark lighting–as well as emergency call booths. This kind of attack on a lone woman have been going on in the same neighborhood since I was a Barnard student decades ago. WHAT is NYC WAITING FOR??
MORE MURDERS OF YOUNG WOMEN??
Heartbreaking So tragic! She had so much going for her! Sympathy to the family!