By Maria Rocha-Buschel
A 29-year-old resident of the Straus Houses at 344 East 28th Street was found dead outside the building in apparent suicide early last Thursday morning. The Daily News reported that the victim was found in the building’s courtyard around 3:08 a.m. A representative from the NYPD said that the man’s injuries were consistent with a fall and the incident is currently being investigated as a suicide.
Tenants Association President Aaron Humphrey said that he was still awake when the man fell, and he called 911 to report the incident. The Daily News had reported that the man jumped from his apartment on the ninth floor. Humphrey noted, though, that based on the location of the victim’s apartment windows and where he was found, it would be impossible for him to have jumped from that window, meaning that he may have jumped from the roof. However, the NYPD could not confirm to Town & Village before press time from where the victim had jumped.
The incident incited concerns about roof accessibility among some tenants, and one resident said that officers from the 13th Precinct informed tenants at a recent meeting that the motion sensor for the roof door had not been on.
Roofs in NYCHA buildings are considered restricted areas to be used by authorized personnel only. However, a representative for NYCHA said that the doors are not allowed to be locked from the inside due to fire codes because if a fire were to occur, residents would need access to the roof if they can’t get down the stairs to get out of the building.
On the night of the incident, police officers told Humphrey that they were surprised by the lack of food in the man’s apartment and a security guard mentioned that the victim had seemed more withdrawn than usual lately. Humphrey said that he was watching a movie when the incident occurred and he didn’t realize what the sound was at first.
“I heard something come down really hard, then I heard a big boom,” he said. “It’s a sound I’ll never forget. I heard him come through the tree branches. It sounded like a box of books. It’s depressing, really depressing, the fact that this guy had no one to call.”
The victim’s identity has not been released by police.