Hunter College Campus Security Officer Killed in Harlem Blast

By Jeff Mays and Tom Liddy  on March 12, 2014 6:15pm  | Updated on March 12, 2014 7:03pm

NEW YORK CITY — One of the people killed in the massive East Harlem blast that leveled two buildings Wednesday afternoon was a decorated campus security officer at Hunter College's East Harlem campus, sources and officials said.

Griselde Camacho was killed when a gas explosion leveled two buildings on Park Avenue and 116th Street around 9:30 a.m. Sources said she was believed to be outside one of the buildings at the time of the explosion.

Also killed in the blast were 67-year-old Carmen Tanco and 21-year-old Rosaura Hernandez, officials said.

The explosion, which could be felt miles away, also left Camacho's mother hospitalized, according to Ayman El-Mohandes, the dean of the School of Public Health, which is located at the Third Avenue and East 119th Street campus.

"The death of...Griselde Camacho in the building collapse in East Harlem, and the hospitalization of her mother, brings great sadness to all of us," El-Mohandes said in a statement.

"My sincere condolences go out to her family and to all of you who knew her and loved her."

Camacho, who spent more than 12 years a police officer in Puerto Rico, according to her LinkedIn page, earned many awards during her career, including the 2010 nod for Peace Officer of the Year for Local 237 of the Teamsters, according to the union's newsletter.

El-Mohandes lauded Camacho, who colleagues said was out on sick leave, for "her readiness to respond and help whenever help was needed."

Hunter College's president, Jennifer Raab, said in a statement that "Griselde was a well-liked member of our community, a respected officer and a welcoming presence at our Silberman building."

The school was planning to bring grief counselors on site to help students and staff, and it invited grieving members of the community to call the CUNY Work/Life program at 800-833-8707.

Co-workers at Hunter said they were mourning the loss of Camacho, who had a son, according to sources.

Jessie Daniels, a professor of public health at Hunter College, said Camacho was a "friendly, engaging, helpful presence" who always laughed and joked with her every time they met.

"She was such a bright light and I'm sad that light has been turned off," Daniels said.

"She was the best officer I ever supervised," Lt. Robert Lyons, Camacho's supervisor at the Harlem campus, told DNAinfo. "I'm still hurting."

Lyons said that Camacho, who was appointed sergeant last year and had been with campus security since 2008, was the "nicest, sweetest person."

"She smiled every day, no matter what."

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