The Death of the “Last Man Killed in New York on 9/11” Remains a Mystery
He later left his Beach 91st Street apartment in Rockaway, got on the A train into the heart of Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Investigators noted later that this was almost four miles north of his intended destination. After getting off the train near 1 Albany Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and making a right turn, going further in the wrong direction, he ended up in a neighborhood known for not being the safest, at the time. The area, known for being a tight-knit block, was on edge just like the rest of New York, and the world. The attacks committed earlier further stoked the flames of a tragedy that was already awful enough on its own.
Although what happened next remains unclear, what is known is that at 11:40 pm, residents in the area heard an argument, followed by several gunshots. After being shot multiple times, Henryk managed to cross Decatur Street, running up to a stoop to ring the doorbell or knock on the door of a brownstone building, albeit with no success. When no one answered his pleas (they were too scared to open their doors after hearing the gunshots), he ultimately succumbed to his wounds. At 11:42 pm, 9–1–1 was called.
Unfortunately, there were limited resources available for the ensuing investigation. Consequently, an evidence collection team was sent, which was usually only reserved for non-fatal crimes such as burglaries.
In a time when video cameras weren’t nearly as prevalent and iPhones not yet a thing, tips from the public had to come through. However, that wasn’t the case here.
Since there is very little information known, neither the identity of Henryk’s killer(s) or the motive for the murder have been uncovered.
One theory suggests that Henryk came across someone who could have mistakenly thought he had something to do with the attacks earlier. At the time of his murder, he was wearing camouflage-patterned clothing and a pair of black army boots. He had a dark complexion and spoke poor English with a heavy accent. He was lost in an area already known for not being safest to walk in at night (at the time), super late in the day on one of America’s darkest days in history. That said, it’s also possible that that wasn’t the case at all.
It has also been suggested that Henryk was a victim of a botched robbery. He was found to have been carrying nearly $75 on him when he died. Even if someone did try to rob him, he more than likely didn’t understand them.
With few leads and no suspects or persons of interests since that night, Henryk’s case remains unsolved.
“The NYPD is offering a reward of $10,000 and Crime Stoppers will pay an additional $2,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the murder of Henryk Siwiak. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1–800–577-TIPS. Callers should refer to the Crime Stoppers Poster Number BK-1375 when calling.”
He may not be a direct victim of the attacks, but he is still a victim, nonetheless. If nothing else, the memory of his presence should be and will be remembered not by the unfortunate circumstances of his death, but by his character and actions. As mentioned earlier, he was a devoted father to two young children, a husband, and a hard worker whose main priority was providing for his family. He, like most, sought the American dream.