Authorities declared the death of an elderly man at a Brooklyn nursing home a homicide earlier this month. The police described a tragic fight between two nursing home patients that began over “a pair of pants.” A “tug of war” over a piece of clothing quickly turned into a violent brawl at Crown Heights Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation when the roommates began beating each other over the head. Staffers say they separated the residents and immediately called the police and an ambulance, however, the injuries were so severe that 74-year-old Eitel Vargas died.
A statement released by the Brooklyn nursing home said, “This is obviously a tragic event in which one of our residents ultimately passed away, and we have extended our deepest sympathies to the family. The health, safety and well being of our residents continues to be our highest priority, and we are confident that our staff handled the matter in accordance with regulations and our standards.” The murderous roommate is still living at the facility and has not been charged, according to The Daily News. Local authorities said the investigation is still ongoing and the Department of Health, the state agency responsible for overseeing New York’s nursing home industry, has also opened an investigation into the fatal fight.
Speaking to The Daily News, residents at Crown Heights Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation and their families expressed sadness at the death and anger at the nursing home for not alerting them of the tragedy. “I wish I’d known,” one woman told the newspaper. “I’m not saying I would move [my husband], but I would be more vigilant about his roommates and who’s up and down the hallway.”
Other residents expressed indignation and rage that the accused murderer still lived among them at the facility. According to inspection reports by the state, the facility has received 16 citations for endangering the safety of its residents.