Updated Dec. 13th at 8:20 p.m.
Tessa Majors, a Barnard first-year, died following a stabbing at West 116th Street and Morningside Drive in Morningside Park Wednesday night, Barnard President Sian Beilock announced in an email to the community later that evening. She was 18.
According to police, a group of suspects approached Majors and demanded her property before stabbing her several times. Officers responded to a 911 call from a security guard at 5:36 p.m. and arrived to find Majors unconscious with multiple stab wounds, a New York Police Department spokesperson said. Despite conflicting reports, Columbia clarified that the Public Safety officer stationed at West 116th St. and Morningside Drive was at his post when the incident occurred, and came to Majors’ aid upon recognizing that she was hurt.
In an alert to the community, Columbia Public Safety reported that the suspects are two or three individuals who are thought to have fled south through the park.
Majors was transported to Mount Sinai St. Luke’s hospital, where she was pronounced deceased.
There are no arrests at this time, and an investigation is ongoing.
Majors graduated from St. Anne’s-Belfield School in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2019 prior to attending Barnard. According to posts on Majors’ Instagram account, she sang and played guitar in a band named Patient 0, which released an album titled “Girl Problems” in September and played at a concert in New York in October.
“We are devastated by the senseless loss of our beautiful and talented Tess. We are thankful for the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from across the country.” Majors’ family said in a statement on Friday.
In her email to the community, Beilock said that she and Dean of the College Leslie Grinage had spoken with Majors’ parents, who were on their way to New York. Administrators are currently coordinating with the NYPD in response to the incident.
“This is an unthinkable tragedy that has shaken us to our core. Please know that we are all grieving together and I am thinking of you as we process this awful news as a community,” she wrote.
Dean of Undergraduate Student Life Cristen Kromm also responded to the incident in a separate email, writing that staff will be available to support students in light of Major’s death. The following morning, University President Lee Bollinger sent his condolences to the community, adding that he and members of the University’s senior leadership will work closely with the NYPD and Barnard to keep community members updated on developments in the investigation.
In a tweet released on Thursday, Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio said that there will be an update on the case later that morning, and added that there will be an immediate increase of NYPD presence in the area.
Barnard’s MacIntosh Activities Council announced the cancellation of its semesterly Midnight Breakfast, while the Columbia University Marching Band has canceled its annual Orgo Night tradition in light of Majors’ death. Barnard will host a community gathering at 7 p.m. at the Diana Center to honor her memory.
Throughout Thursday afternoon, members of the community placed flowers and a note dedicated to Majors on the Barnard crest at the entrance of the college’s main gates.
"For Tessa Majors, whose light will ALWAYS burn bright — Fellow Barnard & Columbia Students,” the note reads.
Barnard’s Furman Counseling Center remained open all night Wednesday and will remain open until 10 p.m. on Thursday, 7 p.m. on Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. this weekend. Columbia’s Counseling and Psychological Services remained open until 2:15 a.m. on Thursday on the fifth floor of Lerner. Kromm and several staff members from Columbia Residential Life were stationed in the first floor lounge in Wallach Hall until 4 a.m. on Thursday to speak to students.
Information about Barnard’s Furman Counseling Center can be found here, and about Columbia’s Counseling and Psychological Services can be found here. Columbia Nightline provides free, anonymous peer listening services and can be reached at 212-854-7777 from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.