NEW YORK -- An 18-year-old Barnard College freshman from Virginia was fatally stabbed in a park near the school's campus in New York City.
Tessa Majors was walking in Manhattan’s Morningside Park just before 7 p.m. Wednesday when she was accosted by an unknown number of people — possibly as many as three — and stabbed during a struggle, police officials said.
The president of the school, which is part of the Ivy League's Columbia University, said Majors was wounded during an armed robbery.
“This is a despicable crime,” Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said at a briefing Thursday.
Majors staggered to a nearby street, where she spotted by a security guard who called 911, Harrison said. She died at a hospital.
“This is an unthinkable tragedy that has shaken us to our core," Barnard President Sian Leah Beilock said in a letter to the campus.
Police have increased patrols around the campus and park.
Investigators recovered a knife Thursday but were not certain whether it was connected to Majors' death.
No arrests have been announced. Several people were let go after questioning by police.
The student's parents, who live in Charlottesville, Virginia, headed to New York . Her father, Inman Majors, is the author of six novels and an English professor at James Madison University.
“We lost a very special, very talented, and very well-loved young woman," Majors' family said in a statement. "Tess shone bright in this world, and our hearts will never be the same.”
Majors was killed just as her the semester at Barnard was winding down, with final exams set to begin Friday followed by a monthlong break.
New York's homicide total this week eclipsed 300 killings for the first time since 2016. With 303 through Dec. 8, it's 9.4% higher than the same time last year.
“The idea that a college freshman as Barnard was murdered in cold blood is absolutely, not only painful to me as a parent, it’s terrifying to think that that could happen anywhere,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“It’s unbelievable to me that that could happen here, next to one of our great college campuses," he said. "It’s an unacceptable reality.” ———
Follow Sisak at twitter.com/mikesisak