Murder, Arson Charges in Gruesome East Harlem Slaying

East Harlem murder suspect
NYPD and FDNY officers trying to subdue a naked Aljo Mrkulic and put him on a stretcher after hauling him out of a building where Christopher Rodriguez was later found to have been brutally slain.
FDNY Response Video

A 31-year-old went on a rampage against a man who may have been his boyfriend in a horrifying fatal stabbing attack that also involved an apartment fire and assaults on police officers who responded to the case, according to the NYPD.

Cops were responding to a residential fire inside unit 9G at the Acacia Gardens affordable housing development at 409 East 120th Street in Harlem shortly before 4:30 on May 16 when they said they were confronted by 31-year-old man, Aljo Mrkulic, who refused to let them into the apartment where the fire was located.

Queens suspect alleged to have killed man described as “boyfriend,” then beat cops at scene

Instead, Mrkulic, who lives at 14-48 31st Road in Queens, was “combative” toward police officers and fought them, cops said. After FDNY firefighters extinguished the flames, the apartment’s tenant, later identified as 30-year-old Christopher Rodriguez, was found with multiple stab wounds “about the body” and was pronounced dead at the scene. Cops would not shed light on the nature of the stab wounds, but the New York Post reported that sources described Rodriguez’s testicles as “mangled” and his stomach “partially cut open.”

The stabbing was captured on surveillance video, according to the Post, which reported that the police report states that footage shows Mrkulic dragging Rodriguez into the hallway before hitting him across the torso and neck with “an unknown weapon.”

Cops tased Mrkulic, the Daily News reported, and took him into custody in a dramatic scene during which video footage caught cops carrying him as he was naked. He was transported to Metropolitan Hospital for treatment and observation and later charged with first-degree murder, second-degree arson, and two counts of assault on a police officer.

Citing police sources, the Post and the New York Daily News both reported that Mrkulic and Rodriguez were in a relationship, though an NYPD spokesperson would not confirm that detail to Gay City News, saying, “I don’t have those particulars.” No further details have emerged regarding the relationship between the two men.

Police did not explain how the fire started, but the Daily News reported that it originated on the stove. Five cops received medical attention for smoke inhalation.

Two employers listed for an Aljo Mrkulic of Queens on social media could not be reached for comment on May 18.

A spokesperson with the Manhattan district attorney’s office told Gay City News that Mrkulic is still awaiting arraignment.

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