A homeless man who was found dead last year with a rope around his neck in Central Park was ruled to be a victim of homicide, the New York City Police Department said on Friday.

Last year, 26-year-old Elvis Garcia was discovered near East Drive and East 65th St early on the morning of 22 September 2021. He was found lying face-up with a black rope around his neck by police officers, who said that he was "unconscious and unresponsive" at the time. Despite efforts by EMS personnel to resuscitate him, Garcia was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to the city medical examiner, there was no possible way Garcia could have tied the noose around his neck. There appeared to be no signs of a struggle on Garcia when his body was discovered, but the coroner ruled that he died due to asphyxia induced by strangulation.

The NYPD says that the rope used to kill Garcia was similar to what is used to cordon off crowds at an event. However, police have yet to identify a suspect at this time.

This ruling comes amidst concerns about higher crime rates in New York City following the COVID-19 pandemic as well as concerns about crimes committed by and against homeless New Yorkers.

In January, the city was shocked when a 40-year old woman was shoved into an oncoming train by a mentally ill homeless man, who was arrested on murder charges but later ruled unfit to stand trial. A month later, a second homeless man was arrested by police after he stalked and murdered a 35-year old woman inside her own apartment in Chinatown.

But homeless New Yorkers have also been victims of serious violence against them as well.

In March, a gunman was arrested after shooting two homeless men, killing one, after traveling to the city from Washington D.C. where he shot three homeless men. Only two days before Garcia’s death was ruled a homicide, the NYPD arrested a suspect who is accused of stabbing three homeless men, including one to death.