New York City police are searching for a man accused of slashing a Muslim woman and an intervening bystander on a Manhattan subway earlier this week.
The incident, which is being investigated as a hate crime, occurred on an Eighth Avenue-bound L train at around 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, according to police.
The suspect allegedly stared at the 28-year-old woman for multiple stations. As she ignored him, he moved closer and closer until he was directly in front of her.
The suspect then punched and slashed the victim in the face, according to schoolteacher John Catania, who stepped in only to get punched and slashed himself.
“I thought it was just punches, but he had a blade on him,” Catania, 29, told the New York Daily News. “A waterfall of blood came down from my neck. I said, ‘Where’s all this blood coming from?’”
The suspect, who police believe to be a homeless man, took off at Union Square station, Catania said. The good Samaritan and the Muslim woman were taken to Bellevue Hospital for treatment.
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The incident was one of two attacks that occurred in under an hour on the city’s subway. About 30 minutes earlier, a 34-year-old man was stabbed on a southbound F train near the 34th Street-Herald Square station by a would-be robber, the New York Post reported. The back-to-back stabbings have left commuters fearing for their safety. The incidents add to the growing list of transit crimes in the city, which are up by 35 percent compared to the same period last year, as per 1010 WINS. “A lot of my family members stopped taking the train because of their safety,” commuter Anderson Valdez told CBS New York. “They feel threatened and all of that.” The NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force is investigating the attack involving the Muslim woman, as it was alleged that the suspect made anti-Muslim remarks before slashing her face.
The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations welcomed the investigation and expressed hopes that the assailant is “apprehended swiftly.”
“We pray that the victims of this violent assault recover quickly and heal from this trauma,” Executive Director Afaf Nasher said in a statement. “Hate crimes need to be addressed with urgency, and that includes when the victim is Muslim. If we are going to change the astoundingly-low number of incidents reported to law enforcement by Muslim victims, they need to know that an effective outcome can be achieved.”
Catania, for his part, wishes someone else had also stepped in to help. His injuries required 26 staples to his head.
“I was really hoping someone would help me out,” he told the Daily News. “I just ended up alone.”