A man is in custody for murder after a Nigerian immigrant was killed in the middle of the day on a busy Italian street. Police say 39-year-old Alika Ogorchukwu, who'd reportedly been living in Italy for nearly a decade and made a living selling items such as lighters and tissues, was chased down by the suspect in the coastal town of Civitanova Marche around 2pm on Friday, attacked with the crutch he used to get around, and fatally beaten on the ground "with bare hands," per CNN. According to witnesses and local media, Ogorchukwu apparently set off his assailant after aggressively trying to sell handkerchiefs and requesting "pocket change," reports the Guardian.
A spokesperson for a local immigrant advocacy group tells a slightly different story, saying that the suspect became enraged when Ogorchukwu complimented his female companion, per Al Jazeera. Paramedics are reported to have found Ogorchukwu dead at the scene. Italian national Filippo Ferlazzo, 32, was arrested for murder and robbery (he's also been accused of stealing Ogorchukwu's cellphone). The brutal attack took place under the eye of multiple onlookers, many of whom apparently yelled or recorded the incident but didn't intervene. "You are killing him!" one man can be heard shouting in footage recorded by a bystander, reports CNN. "There were so many people around, why didn't anyone help him?" his wife, Charity Oriachi, said afterward, per the Guardian.
The killing and subsequent outrage in the Nigerian and Italian communities takes place against the backdrop of a far-right election season campaign in Italy that's been steeped in xenophobic messaging, including posts about supposed violent crimes carried out by "fake refugees" and "illegal immigrants." Ferlazzo's attorney tells CNN that Ferlazzo has mental health issues and will be submitting a report to that effect. A lawyer for Ogorchukwu's wife, meanwhile, says Civitanova Marche's mayor has promised the town will pay for Ogorchukwu's funeral expenses. Money is also reportedly being raised for Ogorchukwu's family. An autopsy will determine whether Ogorchukwu died due to the beating he suffered, suffocation, or from some other cause, reports Al Jazeera. (Read more Italy stories.)