Killing of 83-year-old in Brooklyn apartment is second in building; residents call for more security

BROWNSVILLE, Brooklyn — Police are searching for whoever entered the apartment of a Brooklyn woman in senior housing and beat her to death.

The brutal death of Jacolia James, 83, who went by her nickname, Jackie, is the second mysterious killing to take place in the high-rise where she lived at 393 Powell Street in Brownsville, in less than four years, her neighbors told PIX11.

The killing left James' family, as well as fellow building residents, calling for heightened security, as they all grieve.

"I loved her," said Toni Smith, who sat in the building's senior center cafeteria where, Smith pointed out, James would spend time on any other Friday, to eat the chef's popular fried fish.

"Very loving person," Smith added, describing her friend. "Kind, sweet, generous, just lovable."

The NYPD said that at around 11:45 p.m. Tuesday, a family member found James in her apartment, unconscious, with trauma to her head and torso. There appeared to be no sign that anyone had broken into the apartment.

Jackie James was pronounced dead at the scene by responding EMTs.

83-year-old Jacolia James was found dead in her Brooklyn apartment on Tuesday, April 30, 2019. (courtesy family)

Now in the building complex called Woodson Houses, which is operated by NYCHA, there's shock, in addition to sadness.

"It's getting out of hand," said Carmen Feliciano, another friend of James. "This is the second time this has happened already. Three years ago?"

The NYPD confirmed that on November 9, 2015, an 82-year-old woman was found fatally stabbed in her home, five floors below James' 11th floor apartment.

That murder has still not been solved. Coupled with the latest killing, it sparked calls for heightened security.

"They need some cameras in here," resident Elizabeth Dixon told PIX11.

She, and many of her neighbors, called for surveillance cameras to be installed at the building's main front and rear doors. A surveillance camera is in place above the delivery door to the kitchen at there building's senior center.

Diane Johnson, the residents' association president, said that that's not nearly enough. It's shameful, she said, "that we have to wait for something to happen to one of our seniors to get this attention."

Joining residents in a call for more security in the building, including the installation of cameras, was James' family. Her son and granddaughter live in North Carolina, and have now arrived in New York to plan their loved one's funeral.

"I seen security today in the building," said Edward James, Jackie's son. "I seen people ask, 'Where are you going?', 'What apartment are you going to?'"

"If that was happening before she passed," her son said, "she might not have passed."

Residents said that for now, they're being extra vigilant, while the search continues for the killer of someone they loved.

"It hurts me to my heart," said Jeraldine Farrell, "because we love each other in this building."

There is a $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest in the killing of Jackie James.

Submit tips to police by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), visiting http://www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, or texting 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577. Spanish-speaking callers are asked to dial 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).

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