The NYPD is putting a surge of up to 500 police officers into the city’s transit system after an unknown suspect stabbed four – killing two – in the last 24 hours.
Police Commissioner Dermott Shea told reporters on Saturday that all four people were attacked on the A line and at least three of the incidents are believed to be connected at this time, and Assistant Chief Brian McGee of the Manhattan North Detective Bureau said at least one of the victims was sleeping at the time of the attack.
“New Yorkers trust in the police department and I think they have that trust that we will do everything in our power to keep them safe, building on what has already been done in terms of man and woman power in our transit system of late, we will immediately commence a surge of officers to patrol both above and below ground to ensure that everyone that rides on our transit system on a daily basis,” Shea said. “There is a small army of detectives and investigators working this all night throughout New York City… We certainly have some investigative theories at this time but that’s exactly what they are.”
Shea said the department has tentatively identified the deceased victims, who were homeless, and other two who are being treated in hospitals are expected to survive. McGee added that notifying the next of kin for the victims who did not survive the attacks will not be complicated by the fact that they were unsheltered.
NYPD is not certain at this time, however, whether or not the assailant themselves is homeless nor could they provide a description.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Transport Workers Union Local 100 issued a joint statement calling for additional enforcement just hours before the NYPD’s announcement to up their presence in the transit system.
“The recent horrifying attacks in the subway system are outrageous and unacceptable. Every customer, and each of our brave, heroic transit workers deserve a safe and secure transit system,” the statement read. “We have been calling on the city to add more police to the system, and to do more to assist those who desperately need mental health assistance. The time for action is now. We are demanding that additional resources be put into the system to address this challenge immediately. Our hearts go out to the victims, as we cooperate with active investigations and urge prosecutors to pursue maximum penalties for perpetrators.”
The MTA has been attempting to stem the tide of transit worker assaults and crime across the board in recent years with the plan to hire 500 transit cops being approved in January 2020, but quickly becoming a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic which led to a hiring freeze.
TWU Local 100 held a press conference on Friday calling for harsher penalties on those who spit on transit workers.
NYPD will be increasing overtime for at least 100 of these officers and about 40 cops on administrative assignments will be on patrol.
According to NYPD Transit Chief Kathleen O’Reilly, for the time being with the increased police presence, the A train will likely be the safest route for concerned New Yorkers.