By Paul Lomax
Special to DNAinfo
WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Grief and anger spilled out into the streets of Washington Heights Sunday after an emotional service for Jonathan Delarosa — the young man who was stabbed to death in a melee outside a neighborhood bar last week after celebrating a friend's return from the military.
The body of the 24-year-old victim, who was chased and stabbed in the chest during a brawl outside a bar on St. Nicholas Avenue, near West 182nd Street on April 11, lay in a casket adorned with white lilies at the Ortiz Funeral Home.
Family, relatives and close friends jammed inside the funeral home and were so distraught during the ceremony for the young man, a Columbia University maintenance worker, that some had to be held up.
An aunt of Delarosa's, who did not want to give her name, wept uncontrollably after kneeling at her nephew's casket, where she kissed his forehead and paid her final respects.
"You can see there are a lot of people here," she said, after being consoled by friends and relatives. "Do you know why? Because he was a nice person."
One of the victim's close friends, Hector Guzman, 29, said Delarosa was "a good kid."
"It's not true what the papers are saying about him," he said. "He wasn't carrying a gun."
According to the Daily News, Delarosa had seven prior arrests, including one recently for felony assault with a gun.
Police sources would only confirm the number of arrests. They said five were sealed and declined to comment on the nature of the others.
A close relative, who did not want to be named, said that Delarosa was looking to avoid trouble the night he was killed and was celebrating a friend's return from the military.
"He was a good kid. Turning his life around," she said. "He tried to avoid problems. That’s why he told his friends that they wanted to leave."
Guzman said that Delarosa, whose casket was adorned with yellow and white carnations tied together with a large, light blue ribbon, "had just bought a new car and loved to ride his motorbike."
Some mourners hung photographs of Delarosa around their necks to honor him.
One man, who did not want to give his name, said that his friend of 20 years "was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and now he's gone."
"He had no idea how much he was loved," the man said. "He loved life and was always happy and smiling. He dreamed of becoming a singer. We're going to miss him so much. Everyone is still in so much shock."
After the service finished, some of the mourners' grief turned into anger as they began to shout for justice, demanding that the NYPD do more about gang violence in Washington Heights.
"We are sad about this loss and have worked to help his family through this difficult time,"
Columbia University confirmed that Delarosa worked for the school.
"We are sad about this loss and have worked to help his family through this difficult time," the university said in a statement.
No arrests have been made in Delarosa's killing.