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NYC subway crime jumps

By HENG WEILI in New York | | Updated: 2024-02-21 10:24
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Police are seen at the Mt. Eden Avenue subway station in the Bronx borough of New York after six people were injured with one person in critical condition following a shooting at the subway station on Feb 12, 2024 in New York City. [Photo/Agencies]

A cellist was entertaining New York City subway riders in Manhattan when a woman sneaked up behind him and bashed him in the head with his own metal water bottle.

A bystander was killed and five people injured in an afternoon rush-hour shooting at a Bronx subway station. A teenager has been apprehended in the case.

The Feb 12 shooting, in which police said 19 shots were fired in the train and on the platform, occurred after a fight broke out between two groups of teenagers.

A 31-year-old rider was repeatedly struck in the head by a man with a metal pipe at a Queens subway station.

A subway worker at a Manhattan station was punched in the face by a homeless man.

Those are some of the recent violent incidents recorded in the city's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) subway system, by far the nation's largest.

Transit crime is up 22.6 percent from the start of the year through Feb 11 compared with the same period last year, with assaults up more than 10 percent over the same time, according to New York Police Department statistics.

Five of the six major crime categories — murder, robbery, felony assault, burglary and grand larceny — have increased year to date in a CompStat report released by the NYPD on Sunday.

Mayor Eric Adams said Tuesday that the city is trying to get more funding to restore a program that stationed police officers in the subway on 12-hour shifts.

"We get a greater level of visibility, and we're finding that the officers rather have more days off where they're able to do a longer tour while they are in," he said. "So, it's good for morale, good for actions, good for the movement of the officers.

"We want officers walking through the trains, being at the platforms, being near the token booth and identifying where the crime is actually taking place," Adams said. "And we're seeing a substantial amount of that crime taking place on our subways.

"And so we're going to shift and we're going to engage in a conversation with the head of the transit authority and the governor's office to see if we can get a complement of support to have additional amount of overtime for those offices," the mayor said, noting that the prior funding was "sunsetted".

"Proportionally, the number of riders that we have, we are capping over 4 million riders. We have about six felonies a day on our subway system," he said. "That's six too many; we want to get down to zero. But our subway system is a safe form of transportation in the city."

The Feb 13 attack on the cellist, Iain Forrest, 29, at the busy 34th Street-Herald Square station was enough for him to stop performing underground. The assault was captured on video by a spectator recording Forrest's performance.

"Two attacks in less than a year is two too much," Forrest said in an Instagram post Sunday. "I have been punched, choked, and now bashed in the head.

"I love performing for you all in the subway, but I'm at my breaking point and can't take more injury or harm."

An MD-PhD student at Mount Sinai's Icahn School of Medicine, Forrest said that he was one of the many subway performers who have been "attacked, harassed or robbed" while attempting to entertain subway riders.

He suggested that other musicians join the Subway Performers Advocacy Group to demand better security at transit hubs, the New York Post reported.

In a statement, the MTA said, "No one in the transit system, including the musicians, should be subjected to violence, and when the NYPD catches up to the person who committed this senseless attack, they will be held accountable."

The MTA is replacing florescent lighting with LED fixtures at some stations as a security measure.

"Your platforms, mezzanines and staircases will now be lighter and brighter, and that will give a sense of comfort that our system is more safe," said Demetrius Crichlow, senior vice-president of the NYC Transit Department of Subways, CBS New York reported. "Our hundreds of thousands of cameras that we have throughout the stations will be able to get better images when things happen."

In another incident, a Brazilian tourist was stabbed in the back at the Queens Plaza station on Thursday morning, according to police, the Post reported. A stranger ran up to the 29-year-old victim and slashed him in the neck, the Post reported, citing authorities and sources.

"People get stabbed at the end of this station, sometimes in the elevator," an MTA worker at the Queens Plaza station told the Post on Monday. "It's very, very bad."

On Feb 14, a 16-year-old boy was stabbed in the thigh at the Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue station in Brooklyn, police said.

On the same day, a 58-year-old female MTA worker was punched in the face by a homeless man on a Lower Manhattan subway platform — a bystander also was hit when he intervened to help the woman.

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