An unidentified male was found dead on Amsterdam Avenue, right outside the Columbia University campus, at 10:25 am on Sunday, January 27, police said.
NYPD said a Columbia University faculty member and a university public safety officer discovered the man’s body in front of 1116 Amsterdam Ave. He was pronounced dead at the scene. A medical autopsy is pending and the investigation is ongoing. The man has been identified.
Robert Hornsby, a spokesman for Columbia University, said that the institution does not want to comment. He added, however, that the NYPD at the scene did confirm that the deceased man was not a student, faculty or staff member.
A witness at the scene, 45-old Hugo Garcia who works at the dining hall Strokos across the road, said he had noticed two men lying on the ground outside of 1116 Amsterdam Avenue. He said they had been there the entire previous day and night, they looked homeless and drunk, and they were not wearing much clothing.
“They must have been very cold,” he said, explaining that he had walked past them several times on the way to work over the past two days. “Maybe we should have done something.”
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there were 91,897 homeless people on a single night in New York State in 2018. That’s 2.7 percent more than in 2017. And according to the Coalition for the Homeless, last year, more than 110,000 students were homeless in New York City.
Also, 2016 marked the worst year for homeless deaths in the past decade, with the deaths of 239 homeless people, according to the city’s Department of Homeless Services.