On Saturday, five homeless men in New York City’s Chinatown were violently attacked by a 24-year-old suspect identified as Randy Rodriguez Santos. Four of them died at the scene while a fifth victim was left in critical condition.
Among those who died was 83-year-old Chuen Kwok, who was sleeping in his usual spot outside of 2 Bowery early morning when he was murdered, reports the New York Post.
Kwok, an immigrant from Hong Kong who only spoke Cantonese, had friends in the community and was known as a “hardworking” and “gentle man.”
“We are here to tell you about an innocent man, a gentle man, a polite man,” Shirley Lew Ng, 52, spoke of her friend during a vigil in Chinatown pocket park Kimlau Square on Monday.
“He was brutally attacked while just trying to sleep — something we all do. He died sleeping in hopes of waking up to see what lies ahead tomorrow.”
Ng, who met Kwok while walking through Chinatown about two months ago says the man reportedly once lived on East Houston Street. She said she heard Kwok had a job in which he would not returning home for weeks, most likely working at a restaurant.
“This was very common for Chinese immigrants to do decades ago. We heard he was a hardworking man,” she was quoted as saying.
“Although Mr. Kwok and the other victims were homeless, they are not nameless, and I am 100% positive they were once loved by someone and cared by someone they loved,” she noted in an impassioned eulogy. “There is so much attention a few blocks south of us where billions of dollars is spent and exchanged. Chinatown, and the entire LES wants that same attention too. We want the city to know our community matters and so does our homeless. Come listen to what our needs are so that more lives are saved than lost.”
Another friend of Kwok was a woman named Kim who would often bring him food. In tears, she recalled how she just him the night before his passing.
“I feel so bad for him. He was always saying, ‘Thank you, Ms. Kim,’” she remembered. “I knew him when I was a little girl. My relative was his friend.”
“I wish the city had helped him. It’s too late now,” Kim said.
Meanwhile, two of the other victims were identified by the city’s medical examiner as 55-year-old Nazario A. Vazquez Villegas and 49-year-old Anthony L. Manson. Authorities have yet to identify the fourth victim as of this writing.
Randy Santos, who has 14 past arrests, confessed to the killings and was charged with four counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and unlawful possession of marijuana at an arraignment Sunday afternoon. He is set to appear in court again on Oct. 11.
Featured image via YouTube / China Daily Global