FATAL STABBING AT 1440 BROADWAY AMPLIFIES TENANTS’ SAFETY FEARS
Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg
NEW YORK — As the police continued their investigation Monday into the murder of a textile importer slain last week in his office at 1440 Broadway, other tenants in the building voiced concern about safety.
Sham Prabhakaran, 50, an owner of All India Handloom Fabrics, was fatally stabbed in the neck and back. His body was found in his 19th-floor office by a maintenance worker shortly after noon last Wednesday.
There is a 30 percent vacancy rate at the 25-story building, said Raymond Polanco, security director.
“It looks like a robbery gone bad. That’s what we believe it was and we’ll stick with it,” said Detective David Odermatt on Monday.
It was the second homicide in the Midtown South precinct since the February shooting on top of the Empire State Building.
“That’s the lowest rate in the city,” Odermatt said.
Nevertheless, tenants at 1440 Broadway remain wary.
“This is one of the isolated halls in this building,” said Kimberly Becker, design director for Marion Mills LLC, a neighboring tenant to All India. “He [Prabhakaran] was always in there by himself, and he never locked the door. He was a very trusting person.”
Becker, whose office is less than seven feet from All India Handloom Fabrics, said she and her three co-workers did not hear or see anything unusual Wednesday morning until she returned from lunch to find 30 police officers on her floor.
“They’re going to have to beef up security. There are no mirrors in the hall to see who might be around the corner,” she said. “We were terrified.”
Becker said she had noticed a few messengers on the floor earlier in the day.
On Friday afternoon, the door to a nearby emergency exit was ajar and its alarm was not working, she noted.
Marion Mills, which recently formed a partnership with Doran Textiles, already had plans to relocate to a larger space, Becker said. The firm has not decided if it will leave the building.
On Monday afternoon, All India’s wooden door was padlocked. There was a handwritten sign on the door that said, “Any info, call MTS [Midtown South] Pct. NYPD Det. Fitz 239-9859.”
Several other tenants in the building said a man had been going door-to-door in the building looking for work, Becker said. A stranger inquired about employment Wednesday morning at Z-Ply Corp., another tenant on the 19th floor, said Annie Sancilio, production coordinator. There are 12 employees in the firm’s 4,500-square-foot space.
“We all are scared. I have a very different feeling walking to work,” she said.
Sancilio also questioned the building’s security.
“There are no video cameras in the hallways or the elevators. The whole building needs to be more secure,” Sancilio said. “There definitely needs to be someone who is in control of who comes in and out of here.”
The 19th floor — which has four vacant spaces — is more deserted than some of the other floors in the building, Sancilio noted.
“It’s kind of like you’re on your own up here,” she said.