New York Daily News
His slow, sad end
Man beaten on Qns. street dies 5 days later
A troubled Queens man’s decision to live on the city streets came at a steep cost: His life.
Lukasz Ruszczyk died days after taking a beating in a drunken Queens street fight, with his homeless adversary now charged with murder, cops said Wednesday.
The 38-year-old victim’s younger brother, Mark Jurgiel, recalled his sibling as a man who “meant well” but struggled with his demons — but remained committed to living life on his own terms right to the end.
“He had a lot of issues,” Jurgiel, 31, told the Daily News. “He was choosing to live in the streets . ... He wanted to do everything on his own.”
Ruszczyk was rushed to Wyckoff Heights Medical Center after he was found drunk and semiconscious on the sidewalk near a bus stop at Forest and Putnam Aves. in Ridgewood about 3 a.m. Friday, cops said.
The victim, who died of his injuries Tuesday, was discovered less than a half mile from his family’s home.
Cops later learned someone had called 911 about 6 a.m. on Thursday about two homeless men fighting near the bus stop where Ruszczyk was found 21 hours later. Doctors who treated the victim determined he was beaten.
A witness identified the man who beat Ruszczyk as Pitor Wilk, 35, a local homeless man arrested Friday and charged with murder after the victim’s Tuesday death. According to cops, the suspect had a pair of prior arrests and the victim’s rap sheet arrests.
“He was a pain in my a—,” his brother said with a chuckle of Ruszczyk. “He was a good guy with a lot of problems. Despite whatever he was, he still meant well to everybody.”
Ruszczyk immigrated at age 8 from his native Poland to Ridgewood, where a dozen blue and red prayer candles arranged in the shape of a cross burned Wednesday at the scene of the fatal beating. A second brother died by suicide about two years ago.
Local business included a dozen owners recalled the victim as a genial presence who popped in for a cup of coffee or a snack. Nadeem Tu, a worker at the Forest Avenue Deli, said he would see Ruszczyk sleeping regularly at the same bus stop where he was found beaten.
“He would come in dressed nice and buy good,” said the 39-year-old Tu. “He was working, too.”
When the victim was unemployed, Tu still slipped him free food and water — as did a worker at a nearby bodega.
“Sometimes, if he didn’t have money on him, I’d tell him come back and pay later,” said a 49-year-old worker at Nara Convenience who gave his name as Abdul. “He was a sweet guy. He was very nice. It’s a shame this happened.”
Jurgiel said the accused killer was in similar straits as Ruszczyk, and was known throughout the neighborhood.
“He was living out on the street,” Jurgiel, who was making plans Wednesday for his brother’s funeral, said of the suspect. “As far as I know, he had a lot of problems also. Substance abuse. I never met the guy personally. I really don’t know what happened.”