RICHMOND HILL — The 21-year-old man fatally stabbed early Sunday was a church-going electrician and devoted boyfriend who had taken his girlfriend out dancing to celebrate her 21st birthday before having a knife pulled on him, heartbroken loved ones told DNAinfo New York.
Stephen James, of Rego Park, was clutching his stomach when he flagged down cops on Sunday about 3:50 a.m. at the intersection of 123rd Street and Liberty Avenue. He was rushed to Jamaica Hospital, but he died Monday morning, police said.
"He was the best son you could ever have," said James' heartbroken mom, Geeta James, 43. "He'd go to church every Sunday. He'd take his niece, nephew and younger sister. He'd take me to work at 3:30 in the morning. What more can I say? Nobody can say anything bad about my son."
James' girlfriend, Debra Alli, said her boyfriend and another man had been thrown out of Level Ultra Lounge on Liberty Avenue early Sunday after getting into an argument when the other man started swinging a T-shirt in their faces and bothering the couple.
The skirmish continued up the block, but James came back unscathed about a minute later, his girlfriend said.
She added that she and her boyfriend then separated, and moments later he returned grabbing his lower abdomen.
“He said, ‘Call an ambulance. They stabbed me,’” Alli recounted.
James was rushed to Jamaica Hospital with a non life-threatening injury, cops said, but a hospital spokesman said that he was never in stable condition.
Geeta James said she spoke to her son around 3 a.m., before the stabbing. Minutes later, though, she received another call.
"When I saw his friend calling my phone, I said, 'Oh my God, something happened,'" the distraught mom recalled. "It was like a nightmare. I just said, 'Please God, let him be safe.'"
She spoke to her son before he underwent an operation, but by Sunday afternoon, he had lost so much blood he could no longer talk.
"I just told him, 'I love you, Stephen. Come back to mommy. Don't leave mommy alone,'" she said. "But he couldn't respond."
No arrests had been made as of early Tuesday afternoon, but police have released a video of a person of interest.
Alli said James graduated from APEX Technical School in Manhattan and enjoyed working as an electrician. In his spare time, she added, he loved to fish and watch the Knicks play.
She said that a week that was supposed to be spent celebrating her birthday with her boyfriend of more than three years is now instead devoted to planning a funeral.
“We were supposed to go to the South Street Seaport,” Alli said. “We were even thinking about going to Atlantic City this weekend.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577.