In New York City, a homeless man reported to be mentally disturbed has been charged over the death of a Filipina nurse over the weekend.
What happened: Maria Ambrocio, 58, was walking in Times Square on Friday with a friend when Jermaine Foster, 26, allegedly knocked her down around 1:30 p.m., cracking her skull. She passed away on Saturday night.
- Foster was reportedly fleeing another crime before slamming into Ambrocio. Police said he had just snatched a 29-year-old woman’s phone at West 41st Street and Broadway.
- Emilia Cruz, who was walking with Ambrocio, said there were “lots of people” at the time. She said she witnessed the suspect being chased — until the unthinkable happened.
- “I heard a big thump, like something hit the concrete,” Cruz, a fellow nurse who worked with Ambrocio, told the New York Post. “I looked down and I saw her blouse…I said, ‘Oh my God, Ning.’ I call her Ning.”
- Ambrocio was rushed to Bellevue Hospital, where she was found to have a cracked skull. She was on life support until her family decided to pull her plug Saturday night.
The charges: Foster, who was arrested on Friday, was initially charged with robbery and assault. He was charged with murder following Ambrocio’s death.
- Foster’s crime spree reportedly began much earlier in the day. Prior to stealing the 29-year-old woman’s phone and knocking down Ambrocio, he allegedly barged into a woman’s apartment on Sixth Avenue and 38th Street and demanded money.
- “He busted my door open. He rushed into the apartment,” the unidentified victim, who is in her 30s, told the New York Post. “He basically was demanding money, like ‘Where’s the money? Where’s the money?’”
- The victim, who called 911, said she tried to keep Foster until police arrived, but the suspect managed to flee with about $15. During the encounter, she recalled him yelling, “I’m an African prince!”
- In a statement, the Philippine Consulate General in New York described Ambrocio as “the latest victim of deranged individuals on the loose in New York City.” The office reiterated its calls for authorities to address mental health issues among the homeless, but also asked, “How many more Maria Ambrocios do we have to mourn before the streets would be made safe again?”
What her family is saying: Ambrocio, who had been working at the frontline against COVID-19, had barely seen her family since the pandemic started. They questioned why Foster — who was arrested as recently as last month — was still allowed on the streets.
- “[I’m] heartbroken,” Ambrocio’s brother Carlito Sta. Maria told CBS New York. “[And] yes, I’m angry. I’m angry at that person who did this to my sister. We want justice.”
- Foster was reportedly arrested in September after groping a woman in Midtown. He was charged with forcible touching and sent to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation.
- Ambrocio worked as an oncology nurse at Bayonne Medical Center. She immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines in the late 1980s and had since sent money back home to loved ones.
- The 58-year-old’s death comes as the U.S. celebrates Filipino American History Month. In a statement, Philippine presidential spokesperson Harry Roque called upon the U.S. to do “what is incumbent upon any state where there is a killing,” according to CNN Philippines.
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