A teenager suffering from mental illness jumped to his death Saturday from the top of a Manhattan apartment building he had apparently set on fire.
Jamel Martinez, 18, started a fire in his 10th floor apartment at the NYCHA’s East River Houses on E 105th Street around 4:40 p.m. before jumping off the roof to his death, police sources told The Post.
The fire was knocked down by FDNY, police said.
The teenager had just been released from Bellevue Hospital about a month ago after battling depression, Martinez’s grieving father James White told The Post.
The father said he had pleaded with the hospital to not release his son, whom he said had “changed” over the past couple of years. He said the pressures of graduating from high school had weighed heavily on his son.
“This is my son who did this. This is my son,” said White, 53, while pacing back and forth outside of the scene. “He wasn’t supposed to leave Bellevue Hospital. I told Bellevue Hospital not to release him, take him to a program where he could get his mind right.”
White, who doesn’t live in the building, said the hospital released him anyway, though he was on prescription medication.
“He went through something where his mind just relapsed. He ran away from home,” White said. “He was on the news already for a missing child.”
“He needed help…people do not take this mental thing seriously.”
White said he first learned of what happened from his daughter.
“My daughter called me and said the house is burning up and it’s on Citizen app and that she thinks Jamel jumped off the roof and he might be dead,” he said, his voice crackling.
Resident Rosemary Negron, 60, said that Martinez landed on top of a car.
“I feel terrible,” she said. “It was a kid. I don’t know what happened to him where he would do something like that.”
A 12-year-old boy heard a loud banging sound when he saw Martinez hit the car.
“His mother was crying,” the kid told the Post. “I feel really sad.”
White believes that his son’s mental health issues may have been worsened by exposure to drugs and the street. Before decline and introduction to drugs, White said he was always into computers and technology.
“He was a good kid,” White said. “He was a nice, warm sweet kid.”