As homicide rates go through the roof in an increasingly lawless New York City, the summer crime wave has claimed yet another tragic victim.
18-year-old Winston Ortiz died early Thursday after being stabbed, doused with an accelerant, and then set on fire.
The teenager was attacked following an argument with another person inside a Bronx apartment building on Wednesday afternoon. Police said that the assault occurred shortly after 3 pm in a fifth-floor hallway of a building in Highbridge. The victim was stabbed three times before he was set ablaze.
A senior NYPD official with direct knowledge of the case said that neighbors heard screaming, thought the building was on fire before their went out into the hall to witness the gruesome scene, according to NBC New York.
Police sources said the suspect entered the building about 10 minutes before Ortiz — who did not live there — and then carried out the attack.
Another teenager, a girl, was screaming for help in the hallway. Witnesses attempted to put the fire out by pouring water on Ortiz.
The teenager was taken to Harlem Hospital, where he died in the early hours of Thursday morning.
A building resident, a 34-year-old mother, said she was alerted to the grim scene by the teenage girl screaming.
“I step outside. I saw flames,” the woman, who asked that she not be identified, told the New York Post.
“I thought her apartment was on fire. And when I go over there, I saw a guy in flames all over his body.”
The witness and the mother of the screaming girl, who lives on the sixth floor of the building, grabbed buckets and poured water on the burning victim.
It’s unclear if the teen girl and the victim were acquainted.
The horrific crime is sadly just the latest in a series of violent attacks that have hit the Big Apple in recent months. It also follows a decision taken by the City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio to reduce funding for the New York Police Department by a whopping $1 billion.
Last weekend, for instance, a man was shot dead in the city just for flicking his cigarette butt in the direction a group of men who objected to it.
New York City’s crime wave is unfolding against a backdrop of skyrocketing homicide rates in big cities across America.
Many experts have attributed the rise in violent crimes to the movement to defund the police and reduce its activities, a policy which they say disproportionately hurts minority communities.