As 2019 came to a close, a senseless horrific act of violence occurred in Morrisania, taking the life of a 60-year-old man for merely a dollar.
On Monday, January 6, Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, elected officials and activist groups, held a press conference on the steps where the robbery took place condemning the incident and calling for this type of behavior to stop in the community.
On Tuesday, December 24, Juan Fresnada and his partner, Bayron Caceras, were walking home from the McDonald’s on Boston Road and Third Avenue, when they were allegedly accosted by a group of teens who demanded their money.
The suspects attacked them, putting Fresnada in the hospital for five days, where he eventually succumbed to his injuries and died.
As of press time, a 15-year-old boy was charged with second-degree murder and gang assault in the first and second-degrees and Abu Conteh, 18, was charged with gang assault and second-degree murder charges. Other individuals are still at large.
“He was a brother, he was a friend, he was a neighbor, his life matters,” Gibson exclaimed. “We are calling to action because only one individual was arrested for this horrific crime.”
Later that day, the 15-year-old was apprehended.
On Friday, January 10, a third suspect, a 14-year-old, was arrested as well.
She stressed that people must come forward if they saw something. His family deserves justice.
The councilwoman noted how on Sunday, January 5, thousands marched in the city in solidarity after the recent anti-Semitic attacks in the Jewish community. However, she questioned where is that type of activism for this neighborhood?
“Violence against anyone is unacceptable,” she said. “We have to stand up and speak up.”
According to Gibson, people can help prevent this senseless violence by providing proper health services, education, jobs, housing and medical services.
The Public Advocate shared Gibson’s concerns. He noted how people in the community are getting used to violence and that should not be the case.
Those young people likely did not wake up that day planning to kill someone, but they did and must be held accountable, he exclaimed.
“Someone lost their life for a dollar,” he said.
Like Gibson, he wondered where the help was from the city and state for the impoverished Black and Latino neighborhoods. The governor just gave $45 million to aid the Jewish communities, but where’s the money for us? Williams said.
“We want an impact on the ground,” he stressed. “Where’s the money to fix infrastructure here. We need help on crime.”
Among the activists at the event was Save Our Streets (SOS), a non-profit that works to prevent violence.
James Redding, program supervisor for SOS, expressed his frustrations with the recent crime.
“We stand here on these streets every day to bring families and communities together,” he shouted. “We stand on these streets every day with the hope that when somebody sees us they see us as an opportunity to prevent somebody from doing something.”