Family, Friends Demand City Action at Funeral for Times Square Shoving Victim

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, CRIME, De Blasio, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Media, Queens, NY

By Jessica Easthope

Norma Lardizabal said a tearful, final goodbye to Maria Ambrocio, one of her dearest friends, Monday, Oct. 18. Norma was standing next to Ambrocio when her life was tragically cut short by a senseless crime she says could have been prevented.

“I’m so traumatized today from the whole thing happening that Friday,” Norma said remembering back to October 8. “I hear the head hit the cement and from then on she wasn’t really responding.”

That’s when Ambrocio found herself in Jermaine Foster’s path. Police say he had just stolen a cell phone off a woman in Times Square and violently slammed Ambrocio to the ground as he ran from the scene. She died a day later.

Ambrocio’s death is the latest incident sparked by New York City’s mental health crisis which has seen people with untreated mental illness arrested and charged in violent crimes. Foster’s family said he was off his medication at the time.

“It’s like going back to the ‘80’s and I just really hope the city gets to manage it,” said Rossaly Daniel, Ambrocio’s cousin. “You see subway crime and more homeless on the street and I feel for them. I don’t harbor any hate for them.”

The city’s solution, Thrive NY, has produced few results in aiding New Yorkers suffering with mental illness and Maria’s family and friends say one too many innocent lives have been lost.

“These mentally ill people, they should get help because a lot of people are getting hurt,” said Aileen Alagar, Ambrocio’s best friend and co-worker. “In Times Square, there are more homeless people, people who need help, what happened to my friend isn’t supposed to happen.”

Ambrocio, an oncology nurse at Bayonne Medical Center for 25 years, pivoted to saving lives of COVID patients during the pandemic. She was a devoted parishioner of St. Henry’s Catholic Church in Bayonne, New Jersey. Her family says they were comforted by members of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office – but never heard from city officials. Foster has been charged with felony murder.