New York City mayoral candidate Eric Adams is calling for changes to be made following the death of a 58-year-old nurse who was knocked to the ground in Times Square Friday. Maria Ambrocio, an oncology nurse in a community hospital in New Jersey, hit her head on the pavement after she was pushed. She was hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury and was taken off life support Saturday, reports the New York Times. Dineen Olivera, a longtime colleague at the Bayonne Medical Center, says the Filipino American nurse was extremely dedicated and remained resolute during the worst days of the pandemic, when their shifts were regularly longer than 12 hours.
Police say Ambrocio was pushed by 26-year-old Jermaine Foster, who was fleeing after allegedly stealing another woman's phone. Foster—who crashed into a police officer moments later—was charged with murder after Ambrocio's death, ABC6 reports. He also faces charges related to a home invasion robbery earlier Friday. Police say Foster is homeless. The Times reports that Foster was charged with forcible touching after allegedly groping a woman in Times Square last month, but a judge released him instead of setting bail at $3,000 as prosecutors had requested.
The Philippine Consulate General in New York said numerous Filipino Americans have been "violently assaulted by individuals with mental health issues" this year and urged authorities to do more to protect the public. Adams, widely expected to win the Nov. 2 election, tweeted that the tragic death is a "failure of our entire public safety eco-system, including the failure to identify dangerous people & get them off the street & into facilities."
"She had so much more life to live, and for it to be cut short by what appears to be a career criminal, it’s just a tragedy," Oliver says. Foster's relatives, however, says he is not a violent person. They say he has suffered from mental illness since he was a teenager and his condition worsened after his father died from COVID. "Any time he’s not on his medication he doesn’t think right,” stepfather Orette Montague tells CBS New York. "When his dad died from COVID-19, he was left alone.” (Read more New York City stories.)