Police arrested four individuals Friday hours after they allegedly attacked five men at four different Manhattan subway stations in less than 15 minutes, officials announced.
According to Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, the suspects — all males between 17 and 19 years of age — were picked up at the 79th Street station on the 1 line after a quick, extensive investigation that included the use of MTA security cameras which captured images of the perpetrators.
“I really want to thank the MTA for their cooperation. This was a team effort with sharp eye police work,” Shea said.
Law enforcement sources said between two and three suspects reportedly first approached a 44-year-old man at the 14 St—Union Square station at 4:25 a.m. on May 14. One of the suspects slashed the victim in the face while the other stood nearby and encouraged the attack. The pair then fled the scene on a southbound 4 train. The victim was taken to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition.
Cops said the suspects struck again at 4:30 a.m. that same morning at the Astor Place subway station. After getting off of the train, the suspects approached two men, aged 40 and 41, on the platform. One suspect slashed the 40-year-old man in the face and punched the 41-year-old man while the other stood by. The assailants then fled the scene on the southbound 4 train. The victims were taken to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition.
At 4:37 a.m. the suspects got off a train at the Brooklyn Bridge subway station and one man slashed a 44-year-old man in the back of the head while the other stood by. The suspects once again fled on the southbound 4 train. The victim was taken to New York Downtown Hospital in stable condition.
Finally, the fourth incident happened at the 59th Street-Columbus Circle station, though the 48-year-old man reported the attack upon arriving moments later at the 161st Street station near Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, according to Deputy Inspector Steven Hill.
“He informed officers that while in the vicinity of 59 Street and Columbus Circle a group of males approached him and proceeded to stab him in the right eye with a knife,” Hill said. “The victim was removed to an area hospital where he is in stable condition and undergoing surgery.”
In the wake of another spike in subway crime, MTA officials again called for more safety measures to be taken.
“These were five very serious armed robbery and slashing incidents at stations on the same line. All seemingly could have been prevented by a uniformed presence on each of these platforms,” said NYC Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg. “The responsibility for these vicious attacks does not fall on an already strapped police department – it falls on City Hall and the individuals who are taking advantage of the mayor’s negligence on the issue. If he needed a wake-up call, this is it. Enough is enough. The mayor is risking New York’s recovery every time he lets these incidents go by without meaningful action.”
Making the arrests
Police obtained descriptions of the suspects while responding to the Union Square station slashing, according to Assistant Chief Jason Wilcox.
“The transit officers immediately transmitted the assault over their department radios, which triggered a mobilization for additional responding officers and investigators from Manhattan South night watch. The investigators immediately began interviewing victims and witnesses,” Wilcox said during a press conference outside the 59th Street-Columbus Circle station Friday afternoon. “Additionally, and subsequently, the Manhattan transit squad along with transit special investigations squad also began an intense search for a vigorous camera for additional video footage including MTA cameras.”
Within moments, Wilcox said, high-quality images of the perpetrators had been obtained and dispatched to officers across the city, including Captain Kenneth Gorman, commanding officer of Transit District 1, and his colleague, Officer Jeffery Delacruz.
They were at the 79th Street station on the 1 line near Broadway on patrol at about 11:20 a.m. on May 14, Wilcox said, when Gorman and Delacruz spotted the four suspects who matched the description and images of the slashing suspects.
“We entered the train, on train patrol, at which time we observed four males fitting the description upon arriving at the 79th Street station,” Gorman said. “We stopped the males, we were joined by two of our NCO officers as well as our newly assigned rookies and at that time the four males were placed into custody without incident and removed back to Transit District 1 for further investigation.”
Even with that confidence, the chief warned, one of the suspects had been in trouble before. In January 2021, he was arrested in what he described as “a very eerily similar knifepoint robbery,” but had been released without bail.
Another subway attacker still at large
Meanwhile, the NYPD is also looking for a suspect who assaulted a man inside the Atlantic Avenue subway station in Brooklyn.
At 12:30 p.m. on May 5, a 42-year-old man was standing on the B/Q platform and talking on his cellphone when an unknown man came down the stairs. The suspect approached the victim from behind and punched him in the face, leading to a physical altercation between the two.
The suspect ultimately fled the subway system towards the 4/5 lines. The victim suffered a laceration over his left eye and a laceration to his right cheek and was transported by EMS in stable condition to Cobble Hill Hospital.
The NYPD released a photo and video of the suspect:
Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM, or on Twitter @NYPDTips. All calls are strictly confidential.