Despite another random attack on the NYC subway, crime stats are down: NYPD

CHELSEA, Manhattan (WABC) -- Horrified passengers watched helplessly as a man was punched in the face on the subway this week - but despite several incidents reported lately, police say crime on the subway is down.

That incident happened on the F Train at the 23rd Street station on Thursday morning and video of the assault was posted to social media.

The alleged attacker, Justin Pena from the Bronx, was arrested in connection to that crime.

Another attack on Friday morning made Marco Lau want to punch back, but he said he didn't want to escalate an already tense situation.

"It was this homeless person kind of mumbling to himself, grumbling and stuff," Lau said. "I didn't pay much mind to him because I had headphones on my ear. And as I walked past him I really wasn't looking and I got punched right in the cheek."

In another case, police say 46-year-old Lakeesha Tyler threw bleach in the face of a 37-year-old woman - making up for a few of the five incidents in the last 10 days.

"These unprovoked attacks usually have something to do with mental illness," said retired NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce. "They're so rare. But nonetheless, the NYPD catalogs them to see if there are any kind of patterns."

The statistics indicate that despite the spate of incidents, the numbers are down. To date, there have been 9 random subway attacks this year, as opposed to 17 at this time last year.

"I think that is a rare instance for people to deal with. I think you need to be aware of your surroundings and know what you're dealing with," straphanger Lindsay Chapman said.

It can be dangerous, which is why the chair of the City Council Transportation Committee plans to examine the problem further.

"We need to discuss safety in our stations which is the hearing that I'm looking to call in the next two months. There's too much," said NYC Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez.

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