Filipino oncology nurse Maria Luningning Ambrocio was killed in Times Square, New York on October 8th after being knocked to the ground by a man fleeing from an alleged cell phone snatching crime. The suspect was arrested later that day but Ambrocio died at the hospital.
Her longtime friends Emilia Cruz and Norma Lardizabal were walking beside her on their way to the Philippine consulate when they saw her fall to the ground and cracked her skull. Lardizabal said Ambrocio was more than a friend to her. "She’s more like a sister to me because I don’t have a sister," Lardizabal noted.
Ambrocio, being the youngest of the three, promised them one thing when they grow old. "She promised us she's gonna take care of us because she was the youngest and now, nobody's going to look after us... I'm a divorcee," Cruz said.
On Monday, the Philippine Consulate General in New York organized a memorial mass at the St. Francis of Assisi Church in Manhattan to honor the Filipino nurse. Consul General Elmer Cato vowed he will do everything in his power to help make the streets of New York City safer not just for Filipinos but for all New Yorkers. He said there are 12,000 homeless and mentally ill persons roaming the streets of the city.
"The Filipino community stands in solidarity with many other groups who have been calling on the city to give more focus on improving mental health care as well as in strengthening the Kendra's law so that dangerous people could be taken off the streets," Cato said. "By doing this, we are hoping that we would not have anymore Maria Luningning Ambrocio to mourn and bury."
Filipino Broadway actor Miguel Braganza, who was a recent victim of mugging, also called on authorities to take this case seriously and take actions. Braganza stressed "they should not take this for granted. Dapat tutukan nila ito. This is a major problem in our community (They should focus on this)."
Cato meanwhile clarified he is not blaming authorities for what happened to Ambrocio.
"Alam natin they've been doing their best to protect the public. Siguro kailangan dagdagan pa (We know they've been doing their best to protect the public. Maybe more actions are needed)," Cato said.
The family of Jermaine Foster, suspect in Ambrocio's death, admitted he is suffering from mental illness and that he's been in and out of mental facilities. The family believes Foster slipped through the cracks and might not have been able to take his medications that day. The Fosters also offered their condolences to the Ambrocio family.