Victim of brutal subway attack says MTA, NYPD's enforcement efforts came too late

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Tuesday, November 1, 2022
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78-year-old Stuart Beinhacker was heading to a gardening class when he became the latest victim of subway violence on a downtown 2 train. Josh Einiger spoke to him.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The head of the MTA says the agency's new plan to cut down on crime on the subway is working, but a man who was brutally beaten for asking two people to turn down their radio, says the plan didn't come soon enough.

It was the middle of the day on Saturday when 78-year-old Stuart Beinhacker was heading to a gardening class.

"It was the first time in my life I thought I was gonna die," Beinhacker said. "I thought I was gonna die."

He became the latest victim of violence underground on a downtown 2 train, where he says a man and woman were playing music too loud.

"And so, I asked him to please turn it down and he immediately ran over and started punching the (expletive) out of me," Beinhacker said. "My face, my head, blood gushing everywhere like a geyser. I've never seen so much blood in my life."

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He says both of them punched and kicked him, until the train arrived at 96th Street and they ran off.

"New York can't survive without a well-functioning subway system, but it needs to be safe for all New Yorkers, it needs to feel safe," MTA Chairman Janno Lieber said.

It just so happens that on Monday, the MTA issued a status report on its first week of a so-called surge in resources, which includes 1,200 additional NYPD transit shifts a day, paid for by the state. The goal is to stabilize a situation everyone acknowleges is unacceptable.

Cops have renewed their focus on low level crimes like fare beating. In Penn Station, Eyewitness News reporter Josh Einiger watched as turnstile jumpers found themselves face to face with plainclothes MTA cops, and wound up with $100 tickets, for trying to beat a $2.75 fare.

"When you don't enforce the little things, when you don't enforce the minor infractions like fare evasion, other things seem to spiral out of control," MTA Police Department Chief John Mueller said.

This week, fare beating summonses are up 118% from last week, and the surge in cops has led to skyrocketing arrests for more serious crimes, up 95%. But statistics tell only part of the story.

"This has to stop, this cannot keep going on," Beinhacker said.

Startled straphangers like Beinhacker wonder if they'll ever feel safe.

"It just breaks my heart. I'm scared for myself and my friends. I'm scared for everybody. What's going on in the city is beyond imaginable," he said.

As for the beating suspects, one of them is in custody. Reginald Matthews, 31, has been charged with first-degree assault.

His accomplice, a woman, is still at large.

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