The sound of women weeping followed the casket carrying 83-year-old Chuen Kwok on Friday morning. Kwok was one of the four homeless men killed on an early Saturday morning two weeks ago as they slept on the street in Manhattan's Chinatown.
Choi Fung, speaking through a translator, said she had to be there for the man she'd known for 18 years.
"I feel the soul," Fung said. "That's why I could not sleep yesterday."
Not much is known about Kwok. He had been seen in Chinatown over the years, selling fish or working odd jobs. One resident said she noticed a few years ago that he had begun living on the streets.
(Chuen Kwok, 83, one of four men beaten to death in Chinatown on October 5.)
One attendee at the funeral said she saw him a few weeks before he died, hanging out on a very busy street corner with lots of traffic and pedestrians going by.
"He said, 'Yes, I know.' Because he had an issue with his knee, a walking issue, so he just was taking a break," said Luzy Tsui, a friend of the victim. "He said, 'I know, I know' — he knew what he was doing — he said, 'I will leave very soon.'"
Then, on October 5, Kwok and three other men — Nazario Villegas, Anthony Manson, and a still-unidentified 39-year-old man — were killed. A fifth man suffered serious injuries but survived.
All had been sleeping on local streets in Chinatown when, prosecutors said, 24-year-old Randy Santos beat each of them with a metal object. Santos, himself homeless, with a record of arrests for assault and forcible touching, is charged with first- and second-degree murder, and attempted murder. Police say they also suspect Santos attacked a man in Chelsea last month.
Advocates say the killings highlight a lack of mental health treatment for the homeless, and the need for more outreach.
Kwok's casket was driven to a cemetery in Princeton, New Jersey. The plot was donated, and his funeral and burial expenses were paid for by members of the Chinese American community.
While only a handful of people bid Kwok a final farewell, some of them said it was important to send off the dead properly — especially because his life, seemingly unknowable with very few details, was taken so brutally.