HELL’S KITCHEN, Manhattan (PIX11) — At least three club goers who went to gay bars in Hell’s Kitchen said they, too, were drugged and robbed by an organized team of men, according to a close friend of Julio Ramirez, a Brooklyn social worker who was found dead in the back of a cab on April 21.
Another woman told the friend her brother-in-law died after leaving a New York City bar, and the family believes he was drugged.
“And if this is a pattern, if this is a public safety issue, it’s really important that we continue to talk about this story,” said Karinina Quimpo, a hospital nurse who once attended the University of Buffalo with Julio Ramirez.
Quimpo told PIX11 News that after the Ramirez story started to get national attention in late May, she received Instagram messages from multiple people. The father of a college student said his son had met three men on April 7 at Q–a gay bar on Eighth Avenue. The son made the mistake of inviting the men back to his apartment, where he lives with a female roommate.
“They were both drugged and the three perps took his computer, phone, wallet, and her wallet,” the father told PIX11 News.
By the time the son contacted his father on Friday afternoon, the thieves had already gone to town with credit and debit cards.
“They committed frauds from that point on, traveling on his Uber account,” the father said. “I suspect that they shoulder surfed his password, and after they took his phone, they had access to everything.”
Uber receipts show the crew apparently booked a ride, using the student’s account, to travel into the DUMBO section of Brooklyn, using the address of a supermarket on York Street as their destination.
Later, it appeared the robbers took a ride to Prince Street and Broadway, where a number of trendy stores are located in the SoHo section of Manhattan. Charges were racked up at Bloomingdale’s using the student’s Discover card.
At one point, receipts showed the crew tried to order six bottles of tequila worth more than $1,100 from Uber Eats, but the app eventually cancelled the delivery.
The father noted “I shut his phone down Saturday, but they had already drained his Apple Cash account.”
The sister-in-law of the married, unidentified man who died after leaving a bar told Karinina Quimpo he was a “straight, white man and she thinks the same thing happened to him,” Quimpo said.
According to Quimpo, the woman said that her brother-in-law had gone out for drinks in the city, and he never made it home.
“He died; they think he was drugged,” Quimpo said.
The Office of Chief Medical Examiner has still not ruled on an official cause of death for social worker Julio Ramirez, who started talking with three men outside Ritz Bar on West 46th Street in the early hours of April 21. He was seen on surveillance freely walking to a cab with them.
The 25-year-old son of Salvadoran immigrants had a dual Master’s degree from the University of Buffalo. He lived in Bushwick and counseled people with mental health problems.
The young social worker had saved $17,000 between his savings and checking accounts, but they were raided.
“It was Zelle and Apple Cash transfers,” said Carlos Ramirez, Julio’s older brother. “A thousand dollars, two thousand dollars, and they were doing it constantly until they drained his account.”
The brother told PIX11 News only six dollars were left in Julio Ramirez’ account by the time the thieves were done.
Quimpo said another young man contacted her and said he had survived a drugging, too.
“He was leaving a bar in Hell’s Kitchen; he believes he was followed into his apartment,” Quimpo said.
Quimpo said the man’s belongings had been stolen.
“And he woke up with no recollection of what had happened, and when he read Julio’s story, it resonated with him,” Quimpo said.
Detectives are treating Julio Ramirez’ case as a homicide.
Last month, a police source told us investigators believe a team of three to four men are targeting people leaving bars in Hell’s Kitchen, especially if it appears they’ve been drinking.