Video of ‘unhinged’ man who threatened MTA worker in Queens renews calls for more safety in subways

A man threatened a transit worker with a blade while chasing him into a token booth at Willets Point on Monday.
Screenshot courtesy of TWU Local 100

It was a normal day getting off work for train conductor Kevin Rivera, who was riding the train 7 train home from Main Street on Monday morning at around 1:20 a.m., when it went awry.

He was then approached by a rider who spit at him, brandished a razor blade, and chased him off the train and into the token booth at Willets Point station where he proceeded to make threats against transit workers is just one of hundreds who have reported similar incidents.

“He started yelling profanity at me, yelling ‘this is my house, this is my car.’ He was very aggressive and hostile, pacing back and forth,” Rivera said, explaining how the interaction went down before he fled. “I’m seeing him clearly… He’s running down the ramp, gets the razor blade out of his pocket, puts it in his fist.”

According to Transport Workers Union Local 100, after Rivera took refuge in the booth, it then took 20 minutes for NYPD to arrive, something which raised the ire of the organization representing him toward Mayor Bill de Blasio yet again.

“Our clueless mayor keeps saying the subway is safe. Every day, there are people with serious mental issues threatening and harassing and assaulting people,” TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano said. “It’s out of control and he needs to put more mental health and police resources towards this problem. This Conductor is a real New Yorker, Mr. Mayor. This Station Agent is a real New Yorker. They’re concerned for their safety. It’s not a laughing matter.”

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been on the mayor about providing better cop coverage in subways and agency Chairman Pat Foye spoke to the matter of stepped-up enforcement on Tuesday morning on NY1.

“Felony assaults are up significantly over the past two or three years from the period this year, January to the end of April,” Foye said. “And our customers are concerned also about harassment, and quality of life issues, and panhandling and spitting. And then the other group that we’re really concerned about is our employees. Our employees, transit workers, have reported over 1,000 assaults, attacks, threats or spitting instances over the last six months.”

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, also in a NY1 interview, seemed to blame bail reform for much of the city’s criminal woes while responding a statement from interim NYC Transit President Sarah Feinberg in which she as well vexed over an apparent lack of serious consideration on the part of the city.

“New Yorkers know that the NYPD wakes up works and goes to sleep every day thinking and trying to strategize how to keep New Yorkers safe. Certainly, we want to put officers in the transit system as well as Rockefeller Center, as well as a housing development in Staten Island, we want to do it all,” Shea said. “Laws have consequences. And when we’re putting criminals back on the street as quickly as we can. It is really hamstrung and the police officers of this great city.”

Last week, MTA train conductor Gerard Sykes was slashed in the Cypress Hills station on the J line while commuting as any other member of the riding public. His condition was serious upon a press briefing by MTA officials the following afternoon, but Foye believes he is on the road to a “long recovery.”