Family Aches for Answers as Victims Identified in Double Murder

Memorial candles for “Mousy” and “Domo” outside 868 Amsterdam Avenue

By Joy Bergmann

On Saturday afternoon, Tayllor Torres stood outside 868 Amsterdam Avenue [102nd St.], staring at the makeshift memorial for two men who were stabbed to death there on Thursday evening. 

“We just want somebody to tell us what happened,” Torres told WSR. “Dominic and Mousy. Somebody needs to find out what happened to them.”

Contrary to initial NYPD reports that the younger homicide victim was a teenager, Torres says he was her 21-year-old cousin, Dominic Barrera, also known as Domo. 

T-shirt hanging at memorial site

Torres says she and Dominic’s mother received a call from the 24th Precinct around midnight Thursday. “We went to Mount Sinai on 114th Street and ID’d his body. It was Dominic. This was about 12:45 in the morning on Friday.”

The other victim, Torres says, was Octavio Figueroa, 36, known to many on the block as Mousy. Figueroa’s family also had gathered in front of 868 on Saturday afternoon, but did not wish to be interviewed. Torres says Mousy was a married father. Both men had family ties to the area.

The NYPD has now confirmed that these victim identifications and ages are correct. 

Poster at memorial site

The motivation for the crime and its apparent viciousness baffle Torres. 

She says she believes the NYPD thinks it could have been a drug deal gone wrong, but, “I don’t think that was the case…Mousy got stabbed 70 times, Dominic 17 times. This was personal.” [NYPD’s statement says both victims appeared to have sustained multiple stab wounds without specifying how many.] She continued, “None of this needed to happen. Even if it was gang-related, or street-related. No one had to die. No one had to get killed.”  

Torres says she spoke to her cousin the day before the murder and nothing seemed amiss. “I was supposed to meet up with him this weekend. I didn’t have any reason to feel like anything’s gonna happen to him. It’s not like he told me somebody was after him or I should be worried or he was worried. It just happened.”

Community members WSR spoke with did not posit theories, though several characterized the building, part of NYCHA’s Frederick Douglass Houses complex, as troubled. 

“That building is my nightmare,” said Carmen Quiñones, president of the Douglass tenants’ association, as she moved donations out the door for a food pantry project she organizes. “Drug infested. They run numbers like it’s going out of style.” 

“I walk on the other side of the block. That building’s hot,” added a man working at the pantry. 

Message at memorial site.

The COVID-19 lockdown has also exacerbated problems, some say. One woman lamented the taking down of basketball hoops, keeping youth indoors where gambling, social media beefs and taking of “new pills” can thrive. Fears of the virus may also be keeping police from walking their beats, doing routine patrols throughout the buildings and seeking proactive communication to mitigate trouble, another man speculated. 

New York City Housing Authority buildings have a dedicated housing police presence. At Douglass Houses, Police Service Area 6 aka PSA 6 is responsible for day-to-day patrols. However, the 24th Precinct Detective Squad investigates all incidents that occur within the confines of the 24th Precinct, including 868 Amsterdam, according to Deputy Inspector Naoki Yaguchi, the 24th Precinct’s commanding officer. 

No arrests have been made. The NYPD has released photos and the video below of two individuals they’d like to question in relation to the homicides. 

“But no one can tell us exactly what happened,” says Torres. “As of now, we’re hoping that somebody will end up admitting what they did or give us any information in regards to who did it.”

Torres looked out onto Amsterdam. Eyes unfocused, she lit another cigarette. “I need somebody to find out what happened to my cousin. I need somebody to find out what happened to Mousy.”

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