Police find professor dead in basement, man with hammer in closet of New York City home

NEW YORK — An investigation is underway after police say a professor was found dead in his New York City home and a man was found hiding in a closet with several tools, including a hammer.

Police discovered the body of Jeremy Safran, 66, while responding to reports of a burglary in progress at a home on Stratford Road near Hinckley Place in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn just before 6 p.m. Monday, officials said. Safran was found in the basement with trauma to his head and body, police said.

The medical examiner will determine how he died.

Police said they found 28-year-old Mirzo Atadzhanov, of Brooklyn, hiding inside a closet as they searched the home Monday evening. The man was surrounded by several tools, including a hammer, police said. Earlier reports by detectives say he may have been a former student of the professor.

Atadzhanov was taken into custody and has yet to be charged, according to police.

Neighbors said that just prior to the incident, a strange man with Ohio plates pulled up to the house and went inside.

Doreen Giuliano, who lives across from the family, told WPIX she became suspicious and texted Safran's wife. "I asked her if she had a tenant and she said 'No,' and I asked if she had a worker and she said 'No.'" Giuliano recalled. That's when she texted her neighbor, "Jen!! He went in your side door he went into your house!"

Giuliano said she ran across the street to get Safran's wife and daughter out of the house, telling her to call 911. "While we're talking, I believe he was inside killing (Safran)," Giuliano said.

Overnight, local residents said they were frightened by the incident.

"Violent, very violent. So that scares the hell out of me," neighbor Font Ravi Kisson told WPIX. "We walk up and down here ever single night."

Safran was a professor of psychology at The New School for Social Research and a clinical professor at the New York Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis.

Officials with The New School said in a statement Tuesday they were "shocked and saddened" to learn of Safran's death.

"An internationally renowned psychotherapist, Jeremy was deeply respected and admired by The New School community and his colleagues throughout the psychology profession for his work on psychoanalytic theory and practice, as well as research on psychotherapy processes and outcomes. Jeremy earned countless distinctions for his work," school officials noted.