Kindhearted victim helped killer learn English before crazed Brooklyn attack, neighbors say (EXCLUSIVE)
Kindhearted victim helped killer learn English before crazed Brooklyn attack, neighbors say (EXCLUSIVE)Story by Nicholas Williams, Rocco Parascandola, Leonard Greene, New York Daily News • May 17
The new guy in the building came from Haiti not knowing a word of English until one of his neighbors helped him out.
Now, the helpful neighbor is dead and the man he looked out for is accused of stabbing him to death outside their Brooklyn apartment.
Suspect Frantzny Jean, 34, turned himself in to cops on Tuesday, two days after Whitfield George, 31, was stabbed in the chest outside the building where they both lived on E. 18th St. near Beverly Road in Prospect Park South.
Neighbors said Jean was drunk and acting erratically around 10 p.m. on Sunday when George tried to calm him down.
“From what I was hearing, he was trying to avoid the situation,” best friend Jeff Rivera, 26, said of George. “He was backing up, telling him to relax. I heard when he stabbed him, he wanted to continue, three or four more times.
“Why do you have to do that, man? He wasn’t supposed to go out like that.”
Neighbors said Jean often got drunk, and when he did, people in the building kept their distance.
“I guess when he is drunk, he don’t know how to handle his alcohol,” Rivera said. “That night, all I know is everyone was outside. They saw that he was intoxicated, so everyone was leaving one by one and it was just them.”
Candles and flowers marked the spot where George was killed.
The victim’s mother, Mary Popo, said she has gotten very little sleep since her son died. She said they would travel frequently to St. Lucia to visit family.
“It hurts me so much,” she said.
Popo, 62, said someone knocked on her door to give her the bad news.
“I went down and he was already in the ambulance,” she recounted. “I couldn’t go to the hospital. I didn’t want to see him like that, not like this. I locked his room, I don’t want to go in there.”
Popo said George was a generous man and had even helped the neighbor accused of stabbing him.
“It’s not even three years since he’s been in this country,” she said. “He’s not from here. He’s from Haiti. When he came here, my son would teach him English. He couldn’t speak English.”
George had two passions, she said, his music and his appearance. Rivera said he enjoyed soca and reggae music.
“He really took care of himself with his hair and how he looked,” Rivera said. “He’d say, ‘I got to make sure I’m clean and good. We going out to have a good time.’
“He was an outgoing person,” the friend added. “He loved his parties, his events. He’d go to the festivals and stuff back home. He liked to workout, he liked to watch cricket.”
Rivera said he moved out of the neighborhood a few years ago but would always come by to visit.
“He was like an older brother to me,” Rivera said. “He was just a chill guy. He never started problems, He was never a troublemaker. He never would go out in the streets and cause problems. He was always with family, he was always with us.”
Rivera described Jean as an oddball.
“He’d be on the corner drinkin’ to himself, and other days he’d be around people, but quiet,” the pal said said. “He was a constant drinker. I would always see a beer or liquor in his hand.
“Everybody treated that guy nice,” Rivera continued. “Everyone welcomed him with open arms — and for him to betray us like that. We had him in our cars, brought him to parties, treated him like actual family with love and to betray us like that, it’s crazy.”