TREMONT, New York (Isabelle Zehnder reporting) — Early Saturday morning 17-year-old Damien Martinez was kicked out of a house party after paying a $10 entrance fee; when he tried to get his money back he was beaten and stabbed to death and his sister and cousin are pleading for eyewitnesses to come forward.
Damien’s sister, 20-year-old Starleena Vargas, was there and said that she, Damien, and other partygoers were kicked out when things got out of hand.
“They threw him on the floor and started kicking him,” she said. “When he tried to protect himself by curling up, they hit him in the head with a metal bat.”
Starleena then said the group, who are gang members, threw him down the stairs. “They took out a kitchen knife and stabbed him in the neck. His friends ran away because the guys who didi it are in a gang,” she said.
Police officers responding to a 911 call said they found Damien with a stab wound to the chest on Bathgate Avenue in the Bronx Tremont section.
Martinez was taken to St. Barnabas Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival, police said.
“They killed my brother over $10. My brother didn’t deserve to die over $10,” Starleena said.
Police haven’t confirmed details of Martinez’s killing or apprehended any suspects yet, but said an investigation is underway.
About 50 family members and friends gathered at the teen’s Bryant Avenue home Saturday where a makeshift memorial was created with candles and photos.
Mourners wore T-shirts and photos of Damien whose nickname was “Cheese” because he smiled so much. “He was very loved. We are all devastated,” His sister Amanda Martinez said.
SIster, cousin plea for witnesses to come forward
Starleena said she believes people weren’t talking to police because they were afraid of retribution from gang members.
“I’m an eyewitness. I saw everything,” she said.
Damien’s cousin, Aixa Soltren, agreed and asked that other witnesses come forward. “We just want whoever knows something to come forward. Anybody who was there at the party should come forward.”
Damien was working towards getting his GET and planned to join the Army. He leaves behind a pregnant girlfriend.
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Sources: Herald Sun, Gothamist, New York Daily News
17-yr-old Damien Martinez brutally murdered over $10; sister’s tearful plea