NYC crime: 4 attacks within 3 hours amid surge in subway violence

TIMES SQUARE, Manhattan (WABC) -- Four people, including an MTA employee, were attacked in the New York City subway system in a span of three hours on Wednesday morning.

In the Times Square station, a transit authority forewoman was punched in the face. An hour later, a female rider was punched in the face aboard the F train in Forest Hills, Queens. forty minutes later, back in the Times Square station, a middle-aged man was slashed across the face. And at 10:35 a.m., a 60 year-old woman was stabbed in the back on the elevated 3 train platform at the Pennsylvania Avenue station in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

"We need more police in the train stations, on the trains. People do not feel safe," one subway rider said.

Transit workers are being assaulted in numbers that are unheard of. One station agent had to flee her token booth after a man attacked it with a cinderblock last month. A conductor barricaded himself inside another token booth after he says he was chased off a train by this man-who allegedly threatened him with a box cutter.

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Officer Alyssa Vogel describes running through Times Square with the 4-year-old shooting victim to "Good Morning America."



"This is about whether the mayor is going to acknowledge that this is a problem and one he can solve, and one that seems to sit solely in his lap at this moment," interim NYC Transit Authority President Sarah Feinberg said.

In an Eyewitness News interview, Feinberg blamed Mayor Bill de Blasio for refusing to provide more resources underground.

"Our customers and our workers need more," Feinberg said. "They need more of a uniformed presence and more mental health resources in the system at this critical moment."

Teams of NYPD officers are now swarming random trains in random stations. But these latest crimes have happened in spite of that.

The mayor seemed to downplay what others now see as a crisis.

"We will use the NYPD wisely and that will turn the situation around," de Blasio said. "It won't happen overnight because we are coming out of a massive, massive disruption. But it will happen."



Incident 1 -- Times Square



A man was sitting on a bench in the Times Square subway station when he was slashed in the face on Wednesday morning.

Police say the 35-year-old man was sitting on the bench at 42nd Street and 7th Avenue around 9 a.m. when a man approached him.

He began talking to the victim who took out his earbuds and asked him, "Are you talking to me?"

The attacker then spit on him and slashed him on the left side of the face with an unknown sharp object.

He then ran from the scene.

The victim was rushed to Mount Sinai in stable condition.

So far, no arrests have been made.

Incident 2 -- Times Square



In an unrelated incident that also happened at the Times Square subway station, an on-duty MTA employee was punched in the face around 7:45 a.m.

The attacker started screaming at the 47-year-old female victim, pushed her, and then punched her in the face.

"Any attack on an MTA worker is unacceptable," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Subway-Surface Supervisors Association President Michael Carrube released a statement calling for more protection for transit workers.

"Earlier this morning, while performing her duties as a Transit Supervisor at the 42nd Street Times Square Platform, 13-year veteran Andrea Vasquez was punched in the face in an unprovoked attack committed by an emotionally disturbed individual. This heinous attack is just one of countless assaults that have been committed against transit workers over the past several years and reaffirms precisely why Transit Supervisors should be covered under proposed legislation that would impose felony charges against anyone who assaults one of our members. How can the riding public expect to be safe if the essential workers who keep the city moving every day aren't safe? Enough is enough!"

Vasquez's attacker fled down the platform. She refused medical attention.

The attacker is described as a man in his 20s-30s, 5'8", and wearing dark clothing.

Incident 3 -- Queens



In Queens, a 21-year-old woman was hit with a skateboard on an F train around 8:45 a.m. at the 75th Avenue Station.

Police say the suspect was acting erratic and punched the victim in the face. The assault was unprovoked and no words were exhcnaged.

Good Samaritans held the suspect until police could arrive. An arrest was quickly made in the incident.

Andres Gonzalez, 29, is now facing a charge of assault.

Incident 4 -- Brooklyn



In Brooklyn, a woman was stabbed in the back and right shoulder during a possible robbery around 10:35 a.m. It happened on the platform at the Pennsylvania Avenue Station and Livonia Avenue.

The woman was rushed to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The attacker ran away.

Officials respond



When asked about the uptick in violence on the subways, the mayor said that the city has added more officers into the transit system and will continue to make adjustments.

"We have a lot of police in the subways, they have proven that, God forbid, anyone commits an act of violence, they will be found, they will be prosecuted, they will suffer the consequences," de Blasio said. "We are going to keep a strong presence in the subways. We are going to do all the things we need to do to bring the city back and I really think there is a direct interconnection. The more people come back to the subways, the safer the city will get. Pre-pandemic, one index crime per one million riders each day. We can get back to that, but we need to bring the city back. So this is a case where public safety and economic recovery, all the pieces come together. And certainly from what we are seeing from economy, jobs coming back, economy coming back. I am very hopeful that will help us turn the corner in every sense."

The mayor said that the city will continue its efforts of outreach and mental health help for the homeless. But, he says the real answer is "the city coming back to life."

"It's just about truth, just about reality. As the life of the city comes back, these issues do in many ways get addressed. Because we know it from what we saw for years and years and years. Crime went down and down and down in the subway. The subways before the pandemic, one index crime per million riders. We will get back there again. It's just as simple as that. We will bring back the life of the city, all the life of the city, we will use the NYPD wisely and that will turn the situation around. It won't happen overnight because we are coming out of a massive, massive disruption, but it will happen," Mayor de Blasio said.

Feinberg seemed to disagree with the mayor.

"Sadly once again, we've seen several separate attacks within a few hours across three boroughs - two of them taking place at the busiest station in our system by far, Times Sq.-42nd St," Feinberg said. "The mayor must act. The transit system needs an injection of additional mental health resources and a visible police presence on platforms and trains to deter crime and better support our customers returning to the system. New York's economic recovery depends on it."

Over this past weekend, two women and a 4-year-old girl were shot in Times Square. Police continue to search for the suspect in the shooting.

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