Family of slain Barnard student say NYPD union boss blamed victim for her own murder

The family of slain Barnard College student Tessa Majors ripped a New York City police union official on Monday for declaring on a radio show that she was “in the park to buy marijuana” when she was killed.

“The remarks by Sergeants Benevolent Association president Ed Mullins we find deeply inappropriate, as they intentionally or unintentionally direct blame onto Tess, a young woman, for her own murder," Majors’ family said in a statement. "We would ask Mr. Mullins not to engage in such irresponsible public speculation, just as the NYPD asked our family not to comment as it conducts the investigation."

NYPD investigators have not divulged what the 18-year-old college student was doing in Morningside Park, located in northern Manhattan near Barnard College, when she was stabbed to death last Wednesday.

Mullins later apologized and insisted his comments "were taken out context" and were directed at Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"This student Tess Majors is clearly a victim of a robbery homicide," he said in remarks that first appeared on ABC7NY. "She went to a prestigious school. Her family is suffering. But in many ways, I blame the mayor for trying to slant this in a different direction."

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Killing of college freshman Tessa Majors
People pause and place a candle at a make-shift memorial for Tessa Majors inside the Barnard campus, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in New York. Majors, a 18-year-old Barnard College freshman from Virginia, was fatally stabbed in a park near the school's campus in New York City. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
A New York City police department detective use a flashlight to look for evidence in Morningside Park, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Tessa Majors, a 18-year-old Barnard College freshman from Virginia, was fatally stabbed in the park near the school's campus in New York City. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
A reporter does a standup next to a make-shift memorial for Tessa Majors alongside Morningside Park, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in Manhattan's Upper West Side,. Majors, a 18-year-old Barnard College freshman from Virginia, was fatally stabbed in a park near the school's campus in New York City. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
A woman walks past a make-shift memorial for Tessa Majors inside the Barnard College campus, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in New York. Majors, a 18-year-old Barnard College freshman from Virginia, was fatally stabbed in a park near the school's campus in New York City. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
A New York City Police Dept. Crime Scene Unit and officers assemble at an entrance to Morningside Park along Manhattan's Upper West Side, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in New York. An 18-year-old Barnard College freshman, identified as Tessa Majors, has been fatally stabbed during an armed robbery in the park, sending shock waves through the college and wider Columbia University community. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Law enforcement officers search Morningside Park along Manhattan's Upper West Side, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in New York. An 18-year-old Barnard College freshman, identified as Tessa Majors, has been fatally stabbed during an armed robbery in the park, sending shock waves through the college and wider Columbia University community. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
New York City Police Dept. officers work a crime scene in Morningside Park along Manhattan's Upper West Side, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in New York. An 18-year-old Barnard College freshman, identified as Tessa Majors, has been fatally stabbed during an armed robbery in the park, sending shock waves through the college and wider Columbia University community. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Law enforcement officers search Morningside Park along Manhattan's Upper West Side, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in New York. An 18-year-old Barnard College freshman, identified as Tessa Majors, has been fatally stabbed during an armed robbery in the park, sending shock waves through the college and wider Columbia University community. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Police tape cordons off an entrance to Morningside Park along Manhattan's Upper West Side, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in New York. An 18-year-old Barnard College freshman, identified as Tessa Majors, has been fatally stabbed during an armed robbery in the park, sending shock waves through the college and wider Columbia University community. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12: A person stands over flowers laid near the entrance of Barnard College on December 12, 2019 in New York City. Eighteen-year-old Barnard College student Tessa Majors was reportedly stabbed to death nearby in Morningside Park on Wednesday evening during an armed robbery. (Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12: A sign for Barnard College is seen on December 12, 2019 in New York City. Eighteen-year-old Barnard College student Tessa Majors was reportedly stabbed to death nearby in Morningside Park on Wednesday evening during an armed robbery. (Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12: A sign advertising a reward for information regarding a homicide is posted at the entrance of Morningside Park on December 12, 2019 in New York City. Eighteen-year-old Barnard College student Tessa Majors was reportedly stabbed to death in the park on Wednesday evening during an armed robbery. (Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12: An NYPD officer patrols the entrance to Morningside Park on December 12, 2019 in New York City. Eighteen-year-old Barnard College student Tessa Majors was reportedly stabbed to death in the park on Wednesday evening during an armed robbery. (Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)
Tessa Majors murder: 13-year-old arrested for stabbing college freshman in New York park
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Mullins, who has long been an outspoken critic of both the NYPD leadership and de Blasio, said he was trying to make the point that crime had increased in Morningside Park and that the mayor's policies were to blame.

"The hands of the police in this city have been tied by this mayor, and I do not apologize for that," he said. "What I do apologize for is if the family of Tess Majors believes that I intended in any way or made a disparaging comment that their daughter was justified in being murdered, that's totally incorrect and never should they have thought that."

Mullins made the comments Sunday on a local morning radio show where he complained about what he views as lax enforcement of marijuana laws in New York City.

“An 18-year-old college student at one of the most prestigious universities is murdered in a park, and what I’m understanding, she was in the park to buy marijuana,” Mullins told radio host John Catsimatidis. “And you think about that, we don’t enforce marijuana laws anymore. We’re basically hands-off on the enforcement of marijuana.”

“So here we have a student murdered by a 13-year-old and we have a common denominator of marijuana. You know, my question to the people of New York City is, ‘Why is this happening?’”

A short time later, de Blasio fired back at Mullins on Twitter, calling his remarks “heartless.” “We don’t shame victims in this city,” he tweeted.

Also, while Mullins implied that the 13-year-old charged in the case wielded the knife, prosecutors said he allegedly handed the murder weapon to another teen who then fatally stabbed Majors.

The 13-year-old, who was arrested Thursday, is charged with second-degree murder, robbery and a weapons-related charge. He has a court appearance on Tuesday.

As of Monday, the 13-year-old was the only suspect in police custody and investigators were seeking to question another teenager in connection with the killing, according to an NYPD spokesperson.

A 14-year-old was taken into custody Friday and questioned about the murder, the child was released without charges on Saturday, local newspapers reported.

A promising musician from Charlottesville, Virginia, who had played bass guitar in a punk rock band, Majors was attacked shortly before 7 p.m. Wednesday near Barnard’s campus by what police believe was a trio of teens seeking to rob her.

While one of the teens put Majors in a chokehold and the others searched her pockets, the college student fought back and bit the finger of one of the robbers.

"During the struggle, one of the individuals pulled out a knife and stabbed her several times," NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said Thursday. "She staggered her way up the street. One of the security guards saw her and called 911."

She was pronounced dead of stab wounds at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital.

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