The parents of an 18-year-old college freshman stabbed to death in a New York park are outraged after a police union official said she was killed during a drug deal gone wrong.
The comments by New York City Sergeants Benevolent Association president Ed Mullins were "deeply inappropriate, as they intentionally or unintentionally direct blame onto Tess, a young woman, for her own murder," the family said in a statement Monday. "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.
Tessa Majors was attacked in Morningside Park around 7 p.m. on Dec. 11. Her killing spread fear and apprehension at nearby Barnard College, adjacent to Columbia University in West Harlem.
Mullins ignited controversy Sunday when he appeared on a local radio show and said, "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 also said there was a lack of marijuana policing in the city.
Speaking to Inside Edition Tuesday, Mullins was asked why he made the comment.
"Because it's true," he replied. What was happening in that park was there are drug dealers in that park. The 70s were bad, but they became the 80s. The soft-on-crime politicians then are very similar to what we're seeing now," he said.
"By no means is this to disparage Tess at all," he added. "If it was taken that way, I apologize to the family, if it was taken that way. but they need to listen to what was actually said."
Mayor Bill de Blasio also expressed disgust at Mullins' comments. In a tweet, the mayor said, "Think of Tessa's parents, her friends. This is heartless. We don't shame victims in this city."
Majors was attending her first semester at the prestigious, all-female college. She was interested in journalism and was an accomplished musician who had just finished an album with her band Patient 0.
Police said she was stabbed in a robbery gone wrong. On Friday, police arrested a 13-year-old boy in connection with her death. The New York Times reported he told detectives he was with two male friends, and that they intended to rob people in the park. The boy said one friend grabbed Majors in a choke hold and took items from her pockets, according to police. One of his friends stabbed the woman with a knife, sending feathers falling from her coat, the boy reportedly said.
All three ran, he said.