Fatal Stabbing of East Harlem Resident, 21, May Have Stemmed From Mistaken Identity
Friends at the small East Harlem high school he attended remembered Glenn Wright as shy, the kind of kid who sat in the back of a room and didn’t say much. But in 2006, when a neighborhood after-school program started a robotics team, Mr. Wright signed up, emerging as one of the leaders in an unlikely run to the national finals.
“In this profession, you’re not supposed to have favorites, but he was probably my favorite,” said Kristian Breton, who coached the 19-member team, which beat the city’s elite schools in a regional competition, then lost in the national competition in Atlanta.
Mr. Wright, 21, stayed active with the team after graduating from Central Park East High School, coaching and mentoring students while he attended community college. Then, on Saturday night, as he was helping his grandmother at her apartment on the Lower East Side, he was attacked by a group of men and stabbed in the neck. He died the next day.
“He was just one of these guys who was so caring,” said Jeff Ginsburg, executive director of the East Harlem Tutorial Program, where Mr. Wright continued to work with the robotics team as a staff member and volunteer. “I know it’s cliché to say it, but everyone loved him.”
The police arrested Joel Herrera, 20, of the Upper West Side on Sunday morning and charged him with murder in connection with the killing. Family members say officers have told them that the attack was a case of mistaken identity, but the police could not confirm that on Monday night.
Mr. Wright, the third youngest of nine siblings, one of whom died as an infant, visited his grandmother at the Baruch Houses every weekend, family members said. On Saturday, he was there to help her wash her windows. He was taking a break outside when a group of three or four men attacked him, relatives said. His father, who was nearby, saw the attack in progress and chased after the men. Mr. Wright, bleeding profusely from the neck, ran back into the lobby of his grandmother’s building and collapsed in his aunt’s arms, said his brother Peter Wright Jr.
He was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center. Over the next several hours, as word of the attack spread on Facebook, friends and relatives poured into the hospital. Doctors delivered the news on Sunday afternoon that he was dead.
Mr. Wright left behind seven siblings, his father, a girlfriend, a love of skateboarding and photography, and a host of unfulfilled plans. On Monday, a to-do list still sat on his mirror in his bedroom in East Harlem, where he shared an apartment with three of his siblings, his brother Peter said. One notation on it read “City College,” one of the places to which he planned to apply. He was also considering Apex Technical School, where he was considering taking up carpentry, his brother said.
Mr. Wright, whose mother died a few years ago, also cared for a younger brother with Down syndrome, said Danny Peralta, another former coach of the robotics team who stayed close to Mr. Wright and hired him to work with children this summer at the Point, a nonprofit community development agency in the Bronx.
“He was one of those kids that honestly ran away from trouble and violence,” Mr. Peralta said, “and for it to catch up to him like that, it’s just the worst thing I can think of.”
The tutorial program plans to hold a vigil for him Tuesday at 5 p.m. at 2050 Second Avenue in East Harlem, followed by a short procession to Mr. Wright’s high school.