Man stabbed to death in front of wife in unprovoked attack on New York City street

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Friday, July 22, 2022
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A 35-year-old man was fatally stabbed in front of his wife in what police are calling an unprovoked attack in the Bronx Thursday. Sonia Rincon has the story.

NORWOOD, The Bronx (WABC) -- A 35-year-old man was fatally stabbed in front of his wife in what police are calling an unprovoked attack in the Bronx Thursday.

It happened around 1:15 p.m. at East 205th Street and Decatur Avenue in the Norwood section, where authorities say the suspect, 19-year-old Franklin Mesa, walked up to Nathaniel Rivers and stabbed him in the abdomen.

Rivers was in his car with his wife when Mesa approached, and after a brief exchange of words, police say Mesa stabbed Rivers through the window of his car as the victim was exiting.

Rivers' wife jumped out, grabbed a prybar and began hitting the suspect, but she was unsuccessful in her efforts to save her husband.

The victim was pronounced dead at St. Barnabas Hospital.

Police say Mesa fled on foot but that they knew for whom they were searching. They arrested him at his house nearby.

"It just sucks," step-daughter Aaisha Shah said. "It's annoying. It's frustrating. I'm angry. I don't even know."

She said she is struggling to make sense of the murder.

"It's rough, a piece that's missing," she said. "It's been 24 hours, and it doesn't feel real."

Authorities say Mesa is schizophrenic with a history of mental illness, and that he is known to people in the neighborhood, including Rivers.

"He got taken away from his family," Shah said. "He left his bills, he left his son, he left his little brother. He was literally ripped from us."

The Norwood community that knew Rivers and his family well came to pay respects.

"Everybody in the neighborhood loved this man," one said. "He's known everywhere. He shared love and support."

It is unknown what was said prior to the stabbing, as the victim is dead and the suspect is not able to accurately communicate.

"That's why it kind of hits hard for everybody," another mourner said. "He knows everyone that lives in all the buildings on this block. All the houses on this block. All the kids love him."

Mesa has a misdemeanor assault arrest in April of 2021, but the rest of his interactions appear to have ended in mental health treatment.

Mesa is charged with murder, manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon, but a family will have to carry on without a man they describe as their rock.

"He loved my mom, he loved all of us," Shah said. "He loved my niece. He loved her so much. He got taken away from them. He got taken away from his family."

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