THE BRONX, NEW YORK CITY: A fatal stabbing in an area of the Bronx led to the arrest and manslaughter charge of 19-year-old Franklin Mesa. The victim, 35-year-old Nathaniel Rivers, was discovered Thursday with a chest wound at East 205th Street and Decatur Avenue. The encounter was declared unprovoked by authorities after a pocket knife was found in the street nearby.
At 1:15 p.m. in Norwood, Nathaniel Rivers had just parked his car when Franklin Mesa, 19, approached him and began swearing at him, according to police and neighbors, the New York Post said.
Franklin Mesa, 19, was held on suspicion of murder Saturday in connection with the alleged unprovoked killing of a popular Norwood resident (Photo: Screenshot/New York Post)
Franklin Mesa, 19, was held on suspicion of murder Saturday in connection with the alleged unprovoked shooting of a popular Norwood resident (Screenshot/New York Post).
Mesa, a native of the Norwood borough of the Bronx, has been described as psychotic and was known for regularly making fun of neighborhood residents.
According to police, Mesa Rivers approached while he and his wife were in the car. After a brief conversation, Mesa stabbed Rivers through the vehicle’s window as the victim got out, police said. River’s wife ran outside, grabbed a crowbar, and began hitting the suspect to save her husband. The New York Post reports that St. Barnabas Hospital later pronounced Rivers dead.
Bryan Diaz, unprepared at the time, was apparently attacked by Mesa in April 2021. Mesa is currently being held on $500,000 bail or $1.5 million bail. Mesa was immediately arrested for assault and later released. I was pretty upset about the whole incident, Diaz told the New York Post. When I asked the police what else could be done after they arrested him, they shrugged. The system protects him because he’s mentally ill, there’s not really much you can do about that, they said. And I said, “Thank you?” Because if he could do this to me, he could do it to someone else or even try to kill her, which infuriated me.
Diaz and his mother, Gabriella Calderon, were reportedly walking back from his aunt’s house last year when they encountered Mesa. Mesa had already introduced Calderon. Mesa, Diaz said, shrugged in surprise when neither of them recognized him. The victim described Mesa sneaking up on Diaz and hitting him. The two then started fighting on the sidewalk. During the fight, Diaz was able to hit Mesa with his umbrella. According to Diaz, Mesa called his family and then went into his building. According to the New York Post, Diaz, who appeared to simply have a bloody nose from the attack, was furious at the police response. When Diaz found out that Mesa was accused of killing Rivers, she was horrified. He explained: “It’s a shame. I think the system was terribly broken and allowed it to happen,” he added. They could have done more to stop it.
Is Franklin Mesa really mentally ill?
According to the New York Post, Franklin Mesa’s grandmother Ramona Santos defended her grandson by claiming he was at 180th Street at the time of the event to visit his mother and brothers. He had no visible blood, bruises or other injuries, she claimed. He just got home, turned on the TV and retired to bed. Mesa has been undergoing therapy for his schizophrenia for the past seven years and has continued, and he takes a variety of medications every day.
At Saturday’s court hearing, prosecutors said security footage showed Mesa approaching the crime scene before sprinting away with a large knife. In the video, he can also be seen throwing the knife in someone else’s yard before “running back to his mother’s house,” according to Bronx prosecutors.
Aside from not going to school and living with his grandmother and aunt, Mesa is “disabled,” according to defense attorney Michael Rooney.