Memorial service held for NJ woman allegedly killed by fleeing phone thief

TIMES SQUARE, Manhattan (WABC) -- A memorial Mass was held Monday afternoon for the New Jersey woman who died after being pushed by a robbery suspect in Times Square.

Dozens attended the services for 58-year-old Maria Ambrocio, of Bayonne, at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi on West 39th Street in Midtown.

Ambrocio, an oncology nurse for 25 years, suffered serious head trauma when police say 26-year-old Jimmy Foster ran into her while fleeing with a 29-year-old woman's purse that he had allegedly snatched near Broadway and West 40th Street on Friday.

RELATED | Suspect arrested in case of woman pushed into subway train in Times Square
EMBED More News Videos

Authorities say 29-year-old Anthonia Egegbara, of Queens, is now charged with attempted murder.


She was hospitalized on life support but succumbed to her injuries over the weekend.

"I'm more than heartbroken," friend Emelia Cruz said. "We travel together, we work together, we have fun together."

Cruz was there when it happened, as was Norma Lardizabal, as the lifelong friends were in Times Square after lunch.

"We were walking side by side that day," Lardizabal said. "When I saw her and heard the bump on the pavement, and I said, 'Oh my God.'"

Ambrocio would never wake up again.

The Philippine Consulate General of New York, which organized the memorial Mass, released a statement calling for more police protection for the Asian community and mental health resources for the homeless.

Ambrocio's Filipino name, Luningning, means "sparkle," and she truly shined in the last year during the pandemic with her selfless work.

"Luningning was there in the front line against COVID-19," Philippine Consul General Elmer Cato said.

The service was filled with friends and fellow health care workers from the Filipino community, and Cato noted at least nine people of Filipino descent who have been victims of unprovoked violence in the city in the last year, in some cases tied to anti-Asian hate.

While that wasn't the case this time, Ambrocio's friends say they pray something good will come of this.

"I know it wasn't intentional, but there has to be some safety that we can enjoy New York," friend Mimi Escurdero said.

ALSO READ | Officers race through Brooklyn to save life of 1-year-old
EMBED More News Videos

Body-worn camera video shows the race through Brooklyn to save a 1-year-old's life.


Ambrocio's immediate family members were not at the service, but they have been in touch with the Consulate and are planning a funeral.

Both Cato and the priest leading the memorial said they too hope the tragedy can lead to better safety.

In the meantime, they urged members of the community to look out for one another as best they can.

Foster was initially charged with robbery and assault, but he was charged with second-degree murder after Ambrocio's passing.

Local leaders are asking why Foster, who police say is homeless, was on the streets in the first place and not getting the help he needed.

----------
* Get Eyewitness News Delivered
* More Manhattan news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Submit a News Tip
Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.