Fatal Stabbing Rocks Halfway House and Neighborhood

The halfway house at 190 Stanton St. was the scene of an early morning stabbing murder.

As we’ve been reporting today, a resident of a Community Access transitional housing program on Stanton Street was stabbed to death in a violent outburst in the early morning hours, spattering bloodstains across the lobby of the halfway house and prompting a massive police response that descended at 3:30 a.m. and continued all day.

The 50-year-old man’s death was the first incidence of such violence at a Community Access facility, according to the nonprofit’s spokesman, John Williams, who relayed a statement from CEO Steve Coe late this afternoon.

Stanton Street was closed to traffic at Attorney Street most of the day. The trash can where the knife was recovered is in the foreground.

“We are saddened by this death, and our condolences go out to the victim’s family,” Coe’s statement read.

Both the nonprofit’s leadership and police are mum on the identification of the victim and any leads about a suspect, though NYPD’s public information office confirmed this afternoon that the victim was a resident at the halfway house and that he was pronounced dead from multiple stab wounds after being found in the lobby and transported to Beth Israel hospital.

“We are working closely with the NYPD in its ongoing investigation,” Coe said in his statement. Williams declined to answer any additional questions about the incident or about his organization, which has a good reputation built over nearly four decades.

Founded in 1974 in response to large numbers of psychiatric patients being turned out of hospitals, Community Access provides housing, job training and other services for about 1,600 clients with a history of mental illness, according to the group’s website. The organization has been a leader in modeling programs for its target population, drawing a nomination for a New York Times award two months ago and a complimentary profile in the Amsterdam News last summer. Community Access runs a variety of programs in 16 buildings it owns in three boroughs, including its Howie the Harp Peer Advocacy and Training Center in Harlem, which it calls “a model for job training and placement for individuals with combined histories of mental illness, homelessness, substance abuse and incarceration.”

In its 2009 annual report, the group reported $19.4 million in funding, 60 percent of which came from government sources.

Wednesday morning, officials from Community Access visited the Stanton Street facility, surveying the scene of the stabbing and speaking to detectives and police officers but giving no statement to the various local and citywide media assembled with cameras and notebooks.

Meanwhile, crime scene investigators dug through a wire mesh city garbage can on the corner of Stanton and Attorney streets, unearthing a long kitchen knife spattered with blood. An evidence technician carried the knife into a mobile unit, where he measured and examined it to the soundtrack of cameras clicking. Emerging from nearby buildings, including the 1-year-old upscale Stanton NYC condo building directly next door, neighbors ogled the enormous police presence and commented on helicopter noise and strobe lights that woke them in the wee hours, which was the subject of much Twitter chatter as the crime began to draw attention.

Meanwhile, leaders of Community Access pledged to keep on with their mission.

“This is the first incident of this kind we have ever experienced, and we remain committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all our residents,” Coe added in his prepared statement.