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Were a ‘bad shot’ — and a bad actor — to blame for man’s death in Tompkins Square Park?

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | The man found dead on a bench in Tompkins Square Park more than a week ago was a regular who went by the nickname “Toasty.” He was known as a protecter of younger, vulnerable people in the park scene.

However, the cause of his death remains shrouded in mystery, as some tell it. Specifically, “word on the street” is that the victim was given a “bad shot” by someone — who then coldly left him there to die.

Police identified the deceased man as Kevin Kleber, 39, of 772 Jefferson Ave., in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. He was found lying on a bench, with drug paraphernalia underneath his body.

According to a police spokesperson, Kleber’s death is “not being investigated criminally.”

One of his two Facebook pages says Kleber was originally from Ridge, in Brookhaven, Long Island. According to the same Facebook page, it sounds like he was formerly a crusty punk traveler.

“House life is nice but it gets boring,” he posted in November 2019. “At least im home in NYC so i dont have to see/hear freight trains all the time like when i lived in norfolk a few years ago. … I rode [trains] a little over a decade but the older i get the more i like house life.”

Kevin Kleber was known as a protecter of younger people in the Tompkins Square Park scene. (Facebook)

He worked as a mover at Teamsters Local 814. It was his girlfriend who got him to settle down and come indoors, he said.

“She got me off the streets and now I recently just got into the teamsters union so im doin alright,” he wrote in the same Facebook post.

What is still unclear, though, is the official cause of Kleber’s death. The Village Sun has reached out to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for an explanation, though sometimes the final report can be a long time coming.

In the meantime, some say it’s a particularly dark and shameful story. Chris Flash, the publisher of The SHADOW, the local anarchist newspaper, said that, basically, the word going around is that someone gave Kleber — who might have already been intoxicated — a deadly shot, but then did nothing to try to save him.

“He was a very, very good guy,” Flash said of Kleber. “He was known by the nickname Toasty. He looked out for young women hanging in the park to make sure they weren’t abused or taken advantage of. He was like a big brother to younger people in the park — male and female — like an uncle kind of guy — because there are a lot of predators out there.”

He said he heard Kleber first started hanging out in the park around 2007.

“He went to a lot of hardcore [punk] shows,” Flash added. “He was known on the scene. He looked like a tough guy, but he wasn’t a ruffian. Very, very nice guy.

Kevin Kleber was part of the hardcore punk scene. (Facebook)

“The word on the street,” The SHADOW publisher said, “is that someone gave him an injection of some substance — I don’t know what it was. The person who gave him the shot didn’t give him Narcan [used to counter an opiod overdose] to save him and didn’t call 911 to get an ambulance. He just put a sheet on him and walked away.

“I was told that his body was still warm when he was found,” Flash said. “If he wasn’t covered by the sheet, Kevin’s life could have been saved. Toasty could still be with us. Many friends we know carry Narcan packets with them. He could have been revived. Someone without Narcan seeing him on the bench could have called 911. But people passing by may have thought he was sleeping on the bench, with a sheet covering him, like a homeless guy. He was a nice guy. He did not deserve this.

“Maybe he was drunk and somebody said, ‘Try this,'” Flash speculated. “Maybe that person injected him, rather than him shooting up himself. … The police will not bother to investigate because, to them, it’s just an open-and-closed case in their view, just another junkie overdose in the park. … He wasn’t some anonymous junkie found in the park. He was not that person. He had friends and people that cared about him.”

Flash said Kleber was known to smoke cigarettes, drink beer and “maybe some pot,” but he didn’t believe he was an injection drug user. Some of Kleber’s Facebook pages show him inhaling from a bong.

Kleber, who was a “skin,” stood with Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice. (Facebook)

As for the person who allegedly gave Kleber the bad shot, Flash said, “I’m told it’s a male. … They know who he is,” he said, apparently referring to other park regulars. “Whoever this person is, he deserves whatever level of street justice is unleashed upon him,” the anarchist publisher declared.

Regarding the sheet that was covering Kleber, however, it’s also conceivable that it was left by first responders.

In overdoses and suspected overdoses nowadays, the first thought is whether fentanyl was involved. A few granules of the superpowerful opiod — less than a pinch of salt — is enough to kill.

Flash said he doesn’t get why people would risk their lives toying with the deadly drug.

“People feel it’s worth the risk,” he said, “because they want the additional high.”

One of Kleber’s Facebook pages sports photos of him with a flag and logos for Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice, or SHARP.

One week ago, Maya Ifrah posted on his page: “hope ur still punching nazis in the big sky.”

28 Comments

  1. Chris Flash Chris Flash September 6, 2022

    Just to be clear:

    • Kevin “Toasty” Kleber was not just some junkie casualty found dead on a park bench.
    • He was not a stranger to the park and the LES. He had a long-standing connection in our community and the punk scene.
    • He was a good person. He had many friends here.
    • He was a Big Brother/Bad Ass Uncle to the young people (male + female) who hang in the park – he made sure they were safe and free from predators.
    • His worst vices were cigarettes, alcohol and pot. He was not a junkie.
    • He was murdered, either by negligence or indifference, with an injection of some bad shit from someone. If his killer had not covered him with a sheet and walked away, Toasty might have been discovered in time to be saved.

    It’s important that people know these things about him.

    I severely doubt that NYPD will investigate, as it is much EASIER to close the books on a drug-related death, but, in my opinion, Toasty did not overdose by his own hand. The creep responsible deserves the “street justice” that is bound to be meted out.

  2. John Penley John Penley September 6, 2022

    Note to Chris…Practically all dope is cut with fentanyl now. Every city in the U.S. has a massive number of OD deaths from this every week. We probably should declare war on the cartels who are flooding the country with it. Even the Army has a problem with deaths from it: More than 100 soldiers at Fort Bragg died from it last year.

  3. DuchessofNYC DuchessofNYC September 7, 2022

    What a sad story. If I wanted to be a conspiracist I would look into those cartels flooding the US with fentanyl and who’s behind or allowing them… Is the Biden Admin in on it somehow? Why aren’t they cracking down?? It’s insane what’s going on. If there is a plot to kill Americans, this is it….

    • Dana Rock Dana Rock September 10, 2022

      ” Is the Biden Admin in on it somehow? ”
      Stop it

      • Lynn Lynn September 18, 2022

        That makes no sense

  4. NYC NYC September 7, 2022

    This was a sad but good read on who this man was and what he did in his life. The only misinformation is the sheet and saying his body was still warm. Parkgoers stopped two Park supervisors, who called 911 and then stayed there until EMS came, checked his vitals and then placed the sheet. Yes, it is sad the way he passed but it seems as if it’s normal to just walk past a person lying on the ground. Life is what we make it, but to die alone is heartbreaking.

    Thank you for putting a name to this man.

    • Chris Flash Chris Flash September 8, 2022

      I was relating what I heard in the park about the sheet and his being warm when they found him. I wasn’t there, so I have no direct knowledge.

      It is indeed unfortunate that it HAS become “normal” to pass an unconscious person on the sidewalk or on a park bench. There seems to be an epidemic of that these days.

      I just want people to know that Toasty was a PERSON, not an anonymous drug casualty dying in a city park.

  5. Mom Mom September 8, 2022

    Kevin was my son. He was not a junkie.

    • DK DK September 9, 2022

      thoughts go out to you and your family and everyone who loved your son, such a tragic loss ❤️

    • Stephanie Dunn Stephanie Dunn September 9, 2022

      We…all who knew him and loved him in his circle…know he was not a junkie.

    • Maureen Maureen September 10, 2022

      Thank you, Pat. I am still very sad about this and so are many others that knew Kevin when he was growing up. My condolences to you and your family.

    • Lil jill Lil jill September 10, 2022

      We all knew him and cared about him. He was a genuinely good person and did not deserve to die like this. So, so sorry for your loss.

      • Goldy Goldy September 12, 2022

        Kevin “Toasty” was larger then life. AND 12 years ago I was one of the young female crust punks showing up on the scene at 19 and he was 100% one of the BEST people — not just men — overall people, that I met. In the scene and out. His death is a loss to the world! He has remained one of my closest friends over the past decade. He was there for me in my times of need and as my fist to command in aid, if necessary, he has proved his fist were mine. Loyalty without question, clans in the new world, and family member of the streets. He was a SHARP (Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice) through and through, working-class male and hated racial prejudice, sexisim and bigotry. He was a kind heart and an iron fist and had morals that were not comprised or influenced by outside options. He was my brother and I fucking miss him! The guy who did this (because we know who he is) deserves to get his karma served up to him. You cannot aid in the removal of what adds positive to the worldly balance — so negativity — and expect the world to keep turning how it did. Toasty died, but his legend will live forever. He is an icon in LES. His absence in the community will be noticed because his presence kept people in check. With the street culture and so much going under the radar and shrugged off because things are happening low-income on low-income, the consequences of this loss will be felt. We are the majority, especially in NYC, even if the elite turn a blind eye. The effects will be noticed. And let me just point out, TOASTY WAS NOT A JUNKIE, HE WAS NOT USING DOPE REGULARLY OR IRREGULARLY. Toast was employeed, taxpaying and a drinker, much like every other blue-collar individual. This was not an accidental overdose, Toasty did not want to die that night and had plans for the next day — shit, I spoke to him the day before this all happened. Toasty was the image of every son or daughter that you people have. My point is THIS IS NOT HAPPENING BECAUSE OF THE CROWD HE RAN WITH, THIS COULD HAPPEN TO ANYONE, THIS HAPPENED BECAUSE NO ONE “that ‘they’ think matters” GIVES A SHIT. So to the department, I say, don’t minimalize the seriousness of his death. Though they have, and will… The loss of his life IS on someone’s hand other than himself. Sadly, these days because of who Toasty was, it won’t matter — generalizing the community as drug users is what will be done. No attention paid to the fact that he was not one…

        How to get away with murder — fentanyl.

        I love you, burnt Toast, I miss you. And I hope that rain we had a few days ago was you pissing on the worldly curruption 👍

        Goldy 💕

    • Kimberly Kimberly September 11, 2022

      No he was not. He was a good, good guy. My condolences to you and all who loved Toasty.

    • Lynn Lynn September 14, 2022

      I am sorry for your loss

    • Mike gaisser Mike gaisser September 19, 2022

      May God bless you and toasty and I know he wasn’t either.

  6. Crazyspazz Crazyspazz September 9, 2022

    Kevin was never a junkie. The two years I dated him he was always the one with narcan on him begging his friends to stop or at least do it smart around people willing to give narcan if needed. He looked out for everyone, even me after our breakup. He also helped my dog, Sugar, and got her out of a horrible situation (caused by my family member) and gave her the life she deserved. Kevin had his heart on his sleeve and deserves proper respect from the community!

    • Dana Rock Dana Rock September 10, 2022

      If Kevin had a dog & cat, is anyone taking care of them?

  7. Jessixa Jessixa September 11, 2022

    Why weren’t Toasty’s actual friends interviewed for this article? This is a crock of bullshit. Toasty was not a junkie, Toasty WAS a ruffian. This stupid shit is an insult to his memory. Worst researched article ever.

  8. Gringo Loco Gringo Loco September 12, 2022

    This is obviously a big loss to the community. So was the death of Faith Laugier, who was a TSP regular who died from fentanyl. I believe she got it at TSP too. Whoever sold this poison there or in the neighborhood knew their dope could kill. Why are the 9th Precinct cops not busting the supplier and charging them with MURDER???

  9. Lynn Lynn September 14, 2022

    I love my brother Toasty. I miss him. Too sad.

  10. Maureen Maureen September 15, 2022

    I hope he realized how many lives he touched.

    • Mom Mom September 17, 2022

      His memorial is today. I’m sure many of his friends will be there to celebrate his life.

  11. Brother! Brother! September 19, 2022

    I really believe the person who wrote this article is very misinformed!

  12. Gringo Loco Gringo Loco September 20, 2022

    Just to be clear and possibly save lives, it is more likely that someone who is not addicted to opiates and fentanyl will od on them when they may decide to do some. Heroin and fentanyl addicts are much less likely to od because they have a tolerance for dope. The ultimate reason for his death will come out when the autopsy report blood test is released. Lincoln Anderson is the only newsperson who actually took the time to find out who he was and all these comments show he was loved, so give The Sun a break. Also, get wise and never use fentanyl-contaminated opiates [all of the dope now is cut with fentanyl] without someone with Narcan watching your back. Peace to all and stay safe. If it was contaminated dope, I suggest you take your anger out on people selling it in the neighborhood and not on a reporter.

  13. Maureen Maureen September 23, 2022

    He will not be forgotten.

  14. Ian Ian September 29, 2022

    RiP brother… I grew up with toast he lived with me for years with my grand mother befor he left Long Island to travel… this is still devastating hard to believe…he really was one of a kind.. sucha bad ass… also so caring… toast man I miss you bro…I love you dude….
    You dude…. 🥹

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