Vol. 17, No. 5  Feb. 26  - Mar. 10, 2004


Norwood Teen Stabbed to Death


In the early morning hours of Feb. 15, Norwood resident Victor Garcia, 18, was leaving a party on the Grand Concourse, headed toward his girlfriend's house, when he was attacked and stabbed to death by a group of young men near Kingsbridge Road. 

While it is unclear how many people were involved, fellow Walton High School senior Charles Mainer, 17, who was with Garcia at the time of the attack, said as many as 20 boys may have confronted Garcia. Mainer told the Daily News that he heard someone yell, "Get off the block if you don't live here," though the motive for the attack remains unknown. According to a police report, Garcia was stabbed four times in the torso and once in the side. An ambulance took Garcia to St. Barnabas Hospital (SBH) just after 2 a.m. He was pronounced dead an hour and a half later. 

The police have arrested 17-year-old Angel Castro on charges of second-degree murder in connection with the case. A second suspect has yet to be accounted for.

Garcia's family and friends are grieving and in shock. A devoted athlete whose greatest aspirations were to play professional baseball and provide for his family, Garcia was described as a "good kid" who worked with the elderly and loved his sport. "It hurts us more to believe it was him," said Alexandra Estevez, 17, Garcia's girlfriend, inside the family's apartment on East 207th Street. "He was sweet and charming with everyone. He was friends with everyone. He was so confident and ambitious." 

Garcia's younger brother, Rafael Villanueva, 14, lingered outside the apartment building, talking to passers-by before getting a haircut for the funeral. "I was crying when they told me," he said. "When it happened, I didn't know what to do. So many people have come by --  they came yesterday, they came today, they'll come tomorrow."

Community members left a growing memorial of candles, flowers, notes and photos outside the family's building. Garcia "used to help everybody in the building," said upstairs neighbor Joey Sisti. 

Sisti also said he had heard "the ambulance took its time getting there, wasted 25 minutes." The family also has asked why Garcia was taken to SBH rather than a closer hospital. According to Fire Department spokesperson David Billig, "the decision to go to a specific hospital is made based upon several criteria, including hospital diversions as well as patient condition." Though Billig was not able to provide any specific reason why Garcia was taken to SBH, he did note, "A call was received at 2:08 a.m. [for Garcia]. We were on the scene at 2:13. The patient was in the hospital at 2:34." 

Friends and neighbors hope the tragedy is a lesson for other teens. "The kids need to get involved," said Estevez. "How many more times does this have to happen before we stop the violence? How many more kids have to die for them to know?" 

Don Bluestone, executive director of the Mosholu Montefiore Community Center, where Garcia had worked, said the was teen "a gentle young man." "Our community is devastated by the murder," he said, at a recent Community Board 7 meeting. "It's senseless." 

Another Norwood teen, Kamal Singh, was also murdered last fall in a similar incident that alarmed the community.

Garcia's coach, Joe Alvarado, is dealing with the tragedy's school-wide impact. "In terms of my baseball players, some were very close." Alvarado said. "They're taking it very hard. Two lives were destroyed, two young lives --  Victor's and the boy that did this. 

Now, Garcia's memory will live through his family and friends. "We hope Vic can be an example for the rest of the neighborhood," said Garcia's close friend, Joshua  Rodriguez. "But it hurts. Vic was a good kid. In one word, he was wonderful."  

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