Statement on the tragedy involving our friend and brother Erik Paul Perez.

January 4, 2015

In the early morning hours of January 1, 2015, at approximately 7:30 am, our friend and brother Erik Paul Perez committed a grave and tragic act.

Like many New Yorkers and countless Americans, Erik suffered a history of mental illness. In recent years, and especially over the last 6-12 months, he experienced an extreme recurrence which triggered a psychotic break on Thursday morning. That heavily reported episode resulted in the death of his 87-year old grandmother and injuries to three others requiring medical attention, including his mother and step-father.

Erik has been a vital member and faithful friend to many at Abounding Grace Ministries for nearly ten years. We have known him to be an extraordinary creative, compassionate and extravagantly generous, an active participant in multiple ministries with the Abounding Grace family. The horrific events of Thursday do not reflect him as a man and will not define his legacy. They could not have been committed by Erik in his right mind.

We choose today to honor Erik Paul’s years of service at Abounding Grace. He has loved well New York City’s homeless with Apples Core; children with Kidz Rock; musicians and actors with the A/V and drama ministries; public schools as a visiting artist with 20/20 Vision for Schools; orphans in Mexico; neighbors without food or power after Hurricane Sandy; and so much more.

We choose today to celebrate Erik Paul the impeccably dressed Renaissance artist, who overcame a painful childhood and troubled youth to become a versatile street and pop art pioneer. An original b-boy breaker in the 80’s and an accomplished dejay and music producer, he is perhaps best known by his visual arts alias NYC Lase (a/k/a Laser). He was a frequent collaborator with street art legends, contributed to the historic Graffiti Hall of Fame, and regularly designed toys and fashion. We anticipate the future release of his long awaited and already recorded LP.

We remember that Erik is still with us, and while his life will be forever altered, we remain committed to him and his family as they recover from this painful horror. Our prayers are with his mother, step-father, extended family, and all those affected by the events of Thursday. We dedicate today’s service to Erik Paul’s legacy, even as we grieve and lament this moment together.

We at Abounding Grace also reaffirm our commitment to creating a safe and loving community for people living with mental illness. In our family, no one should suffer in silence, hiding in the shadows, stigmatized by their condition. Mental illness is real, as real as diabetes or cancer or any other medical condition. There is no shame in receiving treatment, only admiration for the courage treatment requires, and a commitment to stand with our brothers and sisters as we endure together.

Erik Paul, we love you — yesterday, today, and forever.

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