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Sunnyside in mourning: 15-year-old charged with murder of 17-year-old peer

The memorial at Bliss Plaza below the 7 train 46th St./Bliss station. (Photo courtesy of Pete Mauro)

May 10, 2024 By Bill Parry

A 15-year-old girl was arraigned Friday afternoon in Queens Criminal Court for the fatal stabbing of a 17-year-old classmate she was seen arguing with before it escalated into violence in Sunnyside on Wednesday night. 

Police from the 108th Precinct responded to a 911 call of a female stabbed on Queens Boulevard at 46th Street just before 9:30 p.m., where they discovered the victim — 17-year-old Sara Rivera of 93rd Street in Jackson Heights — with a bloody gash to the neck and a bloody knife lying nearby on Bliss Plaza, a public space beneath the elevated 7 train station.

EMS responded to the scene and rushed Rivera to Elmhurst Hospital where she was pronounced dead. The suspect was seen running westbound on Queens Boulevard and was later taken into custody by police at the Main Street 7 train station in Flushing after she was spotted with blood on her clothing. She was questioned as a person of interest overnight at the 108th Precinct in Long Island City before she was charged with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon.

According to court filings, video surveillance footage viewed by detectives from the 108th Precinct shows the schoolgirl stabbing Rivera in her neck causing her death.

Both girls attended Queens Technical High School nine blocks west of Bliss Plaza in Long Island City along the border with Sunnyside, which is a relatively safe neighborhood where its residents are more accustomed to occasional muggings and robberies than homicides.

“The heartbreaking attack between two teenagers in Sunnyside was an isolated incident and not reflective of our neighborhood or trends in crime,” Council Member Julie Won said. “The individuals knew each other, this was not a random attack. My office will continue to monitor this situation and continue to fund holistic public safety solutions for our community.”

Photo courtesy of Pete Mauro

Students from Queens Technical High School held a candlelight vigil for Sara Rivera on Bliss Plaza on Thursday evening and many returned again on Friday afternoon. A growing memorial at the site is now filled with candles, balloons, and flowers in her honor.

The killing of the 17-year-old was the first homicide of the year reported by the 108th Precinct, which had no homicides reported in all of 2023, according to the most recent CompStat report. In addition to Sunnyside, the confines of the 108th Precinct include Long Island City, Woodside and parts of Astoria and Maspeth.

Queens Criminal Court Judge Michael Hartofilis remanded the defendant into custody without bail. She was ordered to return to court on May 14.

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