By Phil Corso and Christina Santucci
Police arrested a Bronx resident on charges of stabbing a 69-year-old Woodside man to death on a Jackson Heights sidewalk near the No. 7 train stop Monday afternoon and authorities were looking into the murder as a possible homophobic attack, the NYPD said.
Steven Torres, 22, was charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime in the death of Ever Orozco and criminal possession of a weapon, police said.
The Police Department classified Monday’s deadly stabbing near the entrance to the No. 7 train as a possible hate crime, pending a criminal investigation, cops said.
Musarrat Chaudhary, who owns a newsstand and stationery store on 90th Street where the stabbing took place, said she first heard yelling before she leaned over her counter to look outside around 1 p.m..
“One man was on the ground,” she said. “And one was hitting him.”
Chaudhary said Orozco was crying out, “Help, help” in Spanish.
She thought the incident was a scuffle and worried that her glass storefront would be shattered again as it had in the past following a fight on the street.
But when she looked out again, she spotted a crowd that had gathered.
“I saw people running behind him, saying, ‘Catch him. Catch him.’”
Two plainclothes officers chased Torres to 84th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, where they apprehended him, police said.
Thomas Oniszko, who regularly sits on a milk crate on 90th Street, said he saw Orozco stabbed three separate times and in the final blow, it appeared the Woodside man was hit in the throat.
Before he was taken away in an ambulance, Orozco was lying on the ground and taking shallow breaths, Chaudhary said.
“Paramedics pulled off his shirt and he had a a wound here,” Chaudhary said, pointing to her neck. Orozco was taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was pronounced dead soon, the NYPD said.
Oniszko said he and other passers-by believed the attack stemmed from the attempted theft of a cell phone.
But authorities are investigating whether anti-gay sentiment played a role, the NYPD said.
Police also charged Torres with assault as a hate crime and criminal possession of weapons in another stabbing in Manhattan on Sept. 12, in which he allegedly attacked a 49-year-old man he thought was making sexual advances towards him, cops said.
At Boulevard Gardens, where Orozco lived with his wife, workers described the former truck driver as very friendly.
“He was a really nice guy. He would always say hello,” said Dimitrios Kosmopoulos, who works in the complex. “He had a good heart.”
The buildings’ super, Timmy Shaughnessy, said he thought Orozco had retired within the last year and had lived in his co-op for at least 10 years.
The workers said they often spotted Orosco toting cans and bottles to make sure they were recycled, and he would walk through the grounds.
“He liked to be outside,” Shaughnessy said.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4573.