McDonald's worker stabbed while defending coworkers in East Harlem

EAST HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- A McDonald's worker was stabbed multiple times defending other employees from an unruly customer in East Harlem.

The suspect began harassing and arguing with employees inside the restaurant at 3rd Avenue and East 117th Street at around 12:45 a.m. Wednesday.

It is believed he had trouble ordering food from a kiosk and went to the counter to speak with a female manager when they started to argue.

The 31-year-old victim, who works in the kitchen, came out with a broom handle or stick in hand to defend the staff and was stabbed multiple times, including three times in the back, once in the arm and twice in his left temple with a box cutter.

He was rushed to the hospital in critical condition but is said to be stable.



The suspect ran away westbound on East 117th Street. He is described as a male, 5'11" or 6'0" tall, wearing a black and green jacket.

The incident marks the second time this year that an overnight fast food worker was assaulted. In January, Burger King employee Kristal Bayron-Nieves was shot and killed just around the corner.

"It's a real danger here about staying open late at night and that's a big problem and those businesses will have to square that with their employees," said former NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce. "Five people were working there when this happened."

McDonald's owner/operator Bruce Colley released the following statement:

"We are shocked and dismayed by this senseless and unprovoked attack on one of our employees. The safety of our employees and customers is our top priority. We will continue cooperating with the NYPD and supporting our colleague and friend as they recover."

Local residents said more needs to be done to protect employees.

"They need to put more protection for all these workers because they're risking their lives," Elizabeth Rodriguez said. "Make you money, make you rich, so the least you can do is make them safe."

Tania Hernandez works in a food truck on 116th Street. She says closing earlier would make her feel safer.

"I think we should open a little earlier and then close a little bit earlier. You'll be seeing crazy stuff around here," Hernandez said.

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Overall, crime is up 61% in the neighborhood so far this year, driven by increases in felony assaults and grand larcenies.

Robberies are up 87% and burglary is up 150%. But many residents say they depend on all night delis and fast food, especially those who work off-hours or multiple jobs.

"I hope they won't close early because, like, some of these restaurants are places everybody goes to," East Harlem resident Malik Martin said. "If we have police presence around here, I think crime will go down much, much more."

But closing early is already in the works at the subway station on 116th Street.

"It does make me nervous to work at night. If we closed a bit earlier, there are more people on the street, so we feel more secure," subway clerk Rinzi Dorjee said.

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