A 71-year-old grandmother sitting by herself on a subway car in Lower Manhattan.
A 30-year-old man walking down a street in the East Village, listening to music and enjoying a leisurely Saturday afternoon.
A 24-year-old woman heading to her job at Whole Foods in Chelsea.
All strangers. All slashed by men wielding knives or razors.
At least nine other men and women have been similarly attacked in recent months in a rash of slashings that has put many New Yorkers on edge.
Crime — even in this gentler New York City — is a part of life.
But a crime with no discernible motive besides rage and no particular pattern beside absolute randomness causes a particular kind of dread in a city where strangers often find themselves side by side in subway cars or on crowded sidewalks.
“It is alarming to people,” Joseph Fox, the chief of the New York Police Department’s Transit Bureau, said of the slashings. “Everyone sees themselves in that place.”
He acknowledged a recent uptick in these types of crimes, but noted that over all the subway was exceedingly safe. With nearly six million people traveling underground, fewer than seven crimes are reported on an average day.
When it comes to slashings on the subway, Chief Fox said, in about half of the cases there was some sort of dispute between the assailant and the victim before the attack.
But as was the case with the 71-year-old woman assaulted on Monday, there have been episodes in which there was “absolutely no prior contact,” he said.
“Those are particularly horrible,” he continued.
In the case on Monday, a suspect has been arrested.
Chief Fox said that in the wake of the recent attacks, the police were studying the trends and shifting officers.
The police do not categorize random slashings as a distinct crime, so it is impossible to know if the recent influx of reports of attacks represents a drastic increase in the number.
But just on Tuesday night there were two more seemingly random and separate assaults within an hour of each other.
Natalie Lewis, 29, and her sister were waiting for a train at the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center station in Brooklyn around 9:30 p.m. when, according to the police, she was bumped by a man.
Source: The New York Times | MARC SANTORA