3 men indicted in fatal stabbing at Randall’s Island migrant shelter

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By Dan Sears

Three men were indicted in a fatal stabbing at a Randall’s Island migrant shelter earlier this month, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said on Tuesday.

Authorities said 24-year-old Dafren Canizalez was fatally stabbed on Jan. 6 after an argument broke out in the cafeteria of the shelter where he was staying. On Tuesday, Bragg said Moises Coronado, 27; Ferneys Horta, 33; and Anthony Navas, 27, were charged in New York State Supreme Court with manslaughter and gang assault for their alleged roles in the incident. Coronado was also charged with murder.

“As alleged, Dafren Canizalez was brutally killed in an attack by a group, who trapped and chased him until he collapsed,” Bragg said in a statement. “Everyone who comes into our city deserves to be safe, and we will continue to hold those who commit serious acts of violence accountable.”

According to the court documents, Canizalez and Coronado got into a verbal argument in the shelter’s cafeteria around 7:30 p.m. Coronado then left to get a knife and returned with Horta and Navas, who each carried knives in their pockets, officials said.

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They surrounded Canizalez, who punched Coronado in the face, Bragg alleged. Coronado, Horta and Navas chased Canizalez out of the cafeteria until he was blocked by a closed door, authorities said. That’s when Coronado allegedly stabbed Canizalez multiple times, including in his hand and fatally in his chest. The men continued to chase Canizalez until he collapsed, according to the indictment.

Police arrested Coronado at the scene and recovered a knife from his pocket. Horta and Navas were arrested two days later.

Coronado’s attorney Enrico Demarco could not be reached for comment. The Legal Aid Society, which is representing Navas, declined to comment. Steven Hoffner, an attorney representing Horta, said he was still awaiting the evidence Bragg has against his client.

“My client denies any guilt or involvement in the unfortunate demise of this individual,” Hoffner told Gothamist on Tuesday. “As soon as I know more I’ll be in a better position to respond.”

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The sprawling tent shelter on Randall’s Island opened last summer as the city’s largest migrant relief center, capable of housing 3,000 new arrivals.

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