NEW YORK (AP) — An apparently homeless, emotionally disturbed man went on a rampage with scissors along a busy bike path on Tuesday, slashing or stabbing five people, including a 1-year-old boy.
The victims — the child plus two women and two men in their 30s — were expected to survive, though one of the women was listed in critical condition.
Witnesses heard screaming and a child crying at about 8 a.m. in Manhattan’s Riverside Park along the Hudson River near West 65th Street, an elegantly landscaped stretch of greenery flanked by luxury residential high-rises.
After the surprise attack on a sunny fall morning, police officers grabbed a suspect and took him into custody.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly identified him as Julius Graham, a 43-year-old Texas native who had been living in a Bronx shelter. Kelly said he used half a pair of scissors in the attack.
According to the police commissioner, Graham first approached a jogger and stabbed her in the back. Police said he also attacked a man walking his dog, then a woman running along the path, stabbing her in the neck.
Finally, Graham attacked a man pushing his son in a stroller, Kelly said. Graham stabbed the man in the chest as he faced the attacker to protect his son and slashed the boy in the arm, Kelly said.
Graham was taken to a hospital for evaluation and couldn’t be reached for comment.
A New York City Park Advocates spokesman, Geoffrey Croft, called the attack the latest episode in a “troubling trend” of violence in city parks.
He noted that a mother pushing a stroller along the Henry Hudson Parkway in Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan was attacked by a homeless man last week. At least two bicyclists were attacked a week apart in August along the Hudson River around 163rd Street, and two other people were slashed south of 60th Street a month earlier, Croft said.
Croft said the advocacy group has been calling for more park enforcement for years. He said there are 80 security officers patrolling the city’s parks, with another 80 recently hired. In the 1990s, there were 450 parks security officers, he said.
When asked about the spate of attacks, the police commissioner said city parks are “very, very safe.” He said that although authorities are concerned about the recent crime, “the amount of incidents of crime in parks is minuscule.”
Jason Santos, a biker from Queens, said he wouldn’t use the bike path as much because of the most recent attack.
Edlin Pitts, a Manhattan resident who uses the path daily, said he had been cognizant of safety at night, “but this happened during the day, and I’m concerned.”
Yellow police tape and park security on Tuesday closed access to the path. All that was left from the attack was the child’s abandoned stroller.
Associated Press writer Ula Ilnytzky contributed to this report.