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Mourners pay last respects to homeless hero murdered in Jamaica

A homeless good Samaritan’s family, as well as New Yorkers moved by his last act of heroism on a Jamaica street, paid their final respects to the Guatemalan immigrant Wednesday afternoon at his wake.

About a dozen family members of Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax prayed and reflected at the 31-year-old’s wake at the Funeraria La Fe in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Tale-Yax was murdered while coming to the aid of a woman who was getting mugged nearly two weeks ago. What made his death worse for his family was the fact that the mugging victim and several pedestrians did not come to his aid as he lay dying at the corner of 88th Road and 144th Street.

“Why didn’t she call? Why didn’t she get help,” asked Ronaldo Tale-Yax, the slain man’s older brother.

The relatives said Hugo Tale-Yax was the kind of man who would lend a helping hand to those in need. Byron Tale-Yax, 24, another brother, said while Hugo was employed as a construction worker in New Jersey a few months ago, he would go to work some days without pay to assist his fellow day laborers and boss.

“He was kind to everyone,” he said.

Byron said Hugo, one of seven siblings who had immigrated to the United States from Guatemala, lost his job a few months ago and left for Queens in search of another opportunity, but did not have good luck. Ronaldo Tale-Yax said he was shocked when he had to go to the morgue after learning his brother was murdered April 18.

“I felt sad because he tried to assist someone and he lost his own life,” the brother said.

Others outside the Tale-Yax family felt the same way.

Rosa Akidil, a senior citizen from Manhattan’s Upper West Side, came to the funeral home to pay her respects after reading about the incident in the newspapers.

Akidil said she could not understand how New Yorkers, especially the victim, could just watch as such a heroic man died.

“I don’t know her situation, but the situation is that she is alive because he assisted her,” she said.

Investigators are also trying to answer the question. As of Wednesday, neither the mugging victim nor the attacker have been found or identified.

The police said they are combing through several pieces of evidence, including footage from two video cameras that captured parts of the incident.

A fund set up by the Guatemalan consulate and the state Crime Victims Board is paying for the immigrant’s body to be flown back to his native land Friday for a proper burial, according to Rosa Maria Merida, the consul general of Guatemala in New York.

Merida said the support has been growing from around the country as more people hear about Hugo Tale-Yax.

“I think New Yorkers are concerned about this,” she said. “I am really surprised this happened to him in a city where assistance is easy to be obtained.”

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

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