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Homeless man killed as he stops Queens mugging

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Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax may not have been a known name in the borough’s Latino community, but after the homeless man was left to die on the streets of Jamaica when he broke up a mugging, the authorities want answers as to why no one tried to help the good Samaritan.

Footage released by the police and the New York Post Friday showed the disturbing events that took place at 88th Road and 144th Street around 7:30 a.m. April 18, when an unidentified woman was being robbed by a knife-wielding man, the authorities said.

Tale-Yax, 31, stepped up and helped the woman, who fled the scene, but the mugger stabbed the Guatemalan immigrant several times, the police said.

As the mugger got away, Tale-Yax stumbled and landed in front of the entrance of an apartment building on 144th Street. For an indeterminate amount of time, Tale-Yax’s body lay on the street as eight pedestrians walked by it, the video footage showed. One pedestrian is seen shaking the homeless man several times looking for a response, but did nothing to help the man.

Eventually 911 was called and first responders arrived at the scene, but by that time Tale-Yax was dead. The incident echoed the infamous Kitty Genovese case in 1964, when neighbors ignored the the Kew Gardens woman’s loud cries for help as she was being stabbed to death in her apartment building.

Latinos who live near the corner where the incident took place were shocked that no one took immediate action to save the man.

“It’s very bad. That’s no good. It was an emergency. To call, it just takes a second,” said Pedro Aguelar, 47, a Guatemalan immigrant who lives a block away.

Aguelar said he had not seen Tale-Yax in the neighborhood and did not know if he had any family or friends living in the area.

Beaito Rodriguez, who lives in an apartment building yards from the crime scene, said he saw several pedestrians rush to the corner after the police showed up and were shocked by the sight of the body. Rodriguez, who is not Guatemalan, said he could not fathom how the homeless man was left there to die, but conceded that seeing a lifeless body could be frightening.

“I think no one wanted to interfere,” the 24-year-old father of two said. “It can be very dangerous.”

Rosa Maria Merida, the consulate general of Guatemala in New York, said her office is trying to find out when Tale-Yax immigrated to Queens. She said he was single, had no children and is survived by his brother Ronaldo, who lives in the New York City area, as well as his parents and a cousin, who are back in Guatemala.

“We regret ... what happened because it was not only a Guatemalan, but also a human being,” the consulate general said.

Ronaldo Tale-Yax could not be reached for comment as of press time Tuesday.

A wake was scheduled for Wednesday evening at Funeraria La Fe Inc. at 182 Wyckoff Ave. in Brooklyn and the Samaritan was set to be sent to Guatemala for funeral and burial, according to Merida.

“We are trying the best we can for the return of the body,” Merida said.

In the meantime, the authorities were still trying to piece together what exactly happened at that corner in Jamaica.

The mugging victim, described as a 5--foot-3 woman with a thin build and wearing a 3/4 length jacket and a skirt and the suspect, described as a 5-foot-6 man with a medium build and wearing a green short-sleeved shirt, dark pants and a green hat, were being sought for questioning as of press time Tuesday.

Anyone with information is urged to call Crimestoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS, text their tips to 274637 then enter TIP577 or log on to nypdcrimestoppers.com. All reports will be kept confidential.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Updated 5:57 pm, October 10, 2011
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