13-year-old suspect arrested in fatal stabbing of Barnard College student, sources say

Posted at 10:26 AM, Dec 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-14 11:26:06-05

New York City police have arrested a 13-year-old boy in connection with the fatal stabbing of a Barnard College student, according to three law enforcement sources.

The sources told ABC News that the juvenile suspect is facing charges of murder, robbery and weapons possession after he allegedly made statements incriminating himself in Wednesday's killing of Tessa Rane Majors, an 18-year-old freshman at the private women's liberal arts college, which sits just outside Morningside Park in Upper Manhattan, alongside Columbia University.

While he is not the killer of Majors, according to a testimony from the arresting officer, he did allegedly pick up the knife and give it to another teen.

The boy, who is expected to be charged as a minor, implicated two others in his statement to detectives, according to the sources. Another 14-year-old is being interviewed by officials, the sources said.

Majors was walking through Morningside Park near campus on Wednesday evening when she was accosted by an unknown number of people and stabbed multiple times during a struggle, police said. Majors managed to get herself out of the park and onto a nearby street, where she was spotted by a school public safety officer who called 911, police said. She died soon after at a local hospital, according to the New York City Police Department.

Majors' family said they 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," the family told ABC News in a statement Friday.

Majors, a native of Charlottesville, Virginia, was the daughter of Inman Majors, a novelist and English professor at James Madison University, and the grandniece of famed football coach Johnny Majors, according to a family spokesperson.

Majors was finishing up her first year at Barnard College, with final exams set to begin Friday. The school's president, Sian Leah Beilock, said that the teen was wounded "during an armed robbery" that occurred off campus in the park.

"This is an unthinkable tragedy that has shaken us to our core," Beilock said in a statement.

The New York City Police Department's chief of detectives, Rodney Harrison, told reporters that a knife was recovered from the crime scene but it's unclear whether the weapon was used in the stabbing.

Statements the juvenile suspect made to police matched what was seen on grainy surveillance video from Morningside Park, sources said.

The juvenile suspect also said the three fled with Majors' bag, which has not yet been recovered, according to the sources.

The teenager's aunt has maintained that he is innocent, according to sources. The boy is expected to be charged as a juvenile and the case will be handled in family court.

Police are increasing patrols near the park and the neighboring college campuses in the wake of Majors' death, according to Harrison.

Hundreds of people gathered at Barnard College to mourn Majors at a vigil Thursday night. Students, faculty and other community members placed flowers, candles and notes at a makeshift memorial on campus.

“The idea that a college freshman at Barnard was murdered in cold blood is absolutely, not only painful to me as a parent, it’s terrifying to think that that could happen anywhere,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference Thursday. “It’s an unacceptable reality.”

ABC News' Mark Crudele, Julia Jacobo and Ella Torres contributed to this report.