A 16-year-old boy is among three teens facing robbery and weapons charges, after police say they rode the 4 train between two Manhattan subway stations and allegedly beat, slashed and robbed in a series of slashing incidents. The incidents, which took place early Friday, come amid the rise in violent crime across the subway system.
Two other teens, an 18- and 19-year-old from Brooklyn and Bronx respectively, were also hit with the same charges. Gothamist/WNYC is withholding the names of the suspects charged. Police are still looking for a fourth person involved in the attack.
The incidents all happened within an 11-minute span on subways in Manhattan. The first incident happened at 4:26 a.m., when a 44-year-old man sitting inside a downtown 4 subway train approaching the Union Square station was allegedly attacked by the suspects and slashed on the left side of his face, according to police. The victim rushed off the train and was eventually hospitalized at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue where he was listed in stable condition.
Minutes later, on a 4 train at the Astor Street station, two men ages 40 and 41 were allegedly attacked by crew, according to police. The 41-year-old victim was slashed in the nose by one of the teens, police said, and was also transported to Bellevue for his wounds.
In the last incident, at 4:37 a.m. the suspects returned to Union Square aboard a 4 train where they allegedly beat and slashed a 44-year-old man. The suspects allegedly took the victim’s money and tossed his cell phone onto the tracks. The victim was rushed to New York Downtown Hospital and was listed in stable condition.
A manhunt ensued Friday, with police apprehending four people in connection to the slashing incidents. Police released the fourth person and are now in pursuit of another person wanted in connection to the attacks.
One of the victims of the attack, a 44-year-old victim, told WABC-TV he was playing a game on his cell phone of he was attacked.
“I tried to defend myself, I tried to fight him off,” the victim said of the attack. “He got lucky and he hit my face.”
The victim, ho WABC did not identify, said he was alone in the subway car. With crime on the rise in the system, the victim said greater police presence is needed.
MTA officials have pleaded with Mayor Bill de Blasio to increase the number of officers in the system, saying there are simply not enough officers to patrol the entire system. De Blasio said that the city has deployed more officers to the subway system following a fatal stabbing spree along the A subway line in February. So far, felony assaults across the system have shot up 25%, while overall crime has dropped, according to statistics from the MTA.
On Friday, MTA president Sarah Feinberg blamed the stabbings on City Hall.
“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,” Feinberg said.
Bill Neidhart, a spokesperson for de Blasio, said the city has already deployed 3,000 officers to the system.
“Get with the program, help us fight back this crime,” Neidhart said.