Toddler, 4 others hurt in park attack on Upper West Side
A homeless man with a scissor blade stabbed and slashed five people, including a 2-year-old boy and the child's father, in a park on Manhattan's Upper West Side Tuesday morning, turning a haven for dog walkers and joggers into a scene of terror, police said.
The assailant, identified as Julius Graham, 43, was eventually wrestled to the ground by a man walking his dog in Riverside Park and held until police arrived, said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
Graham was taken to Bellevue Medical Center for evaluation, Kelly said at a news conference in the Bronx where he was attending a graduation ceremony for mounted officers. He wouldn't identify the Good Samaritan.
Witnesses told police the man wielded a bloody scissor blade as he maniacally slashed and stabbed people in a four-block stretch of the park between West 64th and West 60th streets, authorities said. A friend of the father pushing his son identified him as James Fayette, the former principle dancer with the New York City Ballet.
Little was known of Graham, Kelly said. He was living in a homeless shelter in the Bronx and was originally from Texas, Kelly said. Graham had received a summons this past summer for a noncriminal violation in a city park, Kelly said.
The attacks began just before 8 a.m. when Graham stabbed a 36-year-old woman in the back as she jogged in the park in the vicinity of West 64th Street, Kelly said. The attacker quickly moved two blocks south, stabbing a 36-year-old man in the stomach before again heading south, Kelly said.
The 35-year-old man identified by a friend as Fayette, was pushing a stroller in the park near West 60th Street when he was stabbed in the chest as he faced the attacker to protect his son inside, Kelly said. The child sustained a cut on the arm after Graham slashed the toddler, Kelly said. A 32-year-old woman jogging in the park was also stabbed, sustaining a wound to the neck, Kelly said.
Fayette remained hospitalized last night, said Alan Gordon, a friend of the former ballet dancer and the executive director of the American Guild of Musical Artists in Manhattan.
"I think they're watching to see if he needs surgery," Gordon said.
Earlier, authorities said the stabbing victims were all listed in stable condition after being taken to St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center. Kelly said the motive for the attacks wasn't known.
The violence was the latest episode in a "troubling trend" of attacks in city parks, said Geoffrey Croft, a spokesman for New York City Park Advocates.
The NYPD is still looking for a man who attacked a woman Friday with a broken bottle in Fort Tryon Park along the Henry Hudson Parkway as she pushed her infant son in a stroller.
The woman was able to fend off her attacker with a tire pump. Croft said at least two bicyclists were attacked a week apart in August along the Hudson River around 163rd Street, and two people were slashed south of 60th Street in July.
When asked about the attacks, Kelly said he is concerned, but city parks are "very, very safe."
"It concerns everybody," he said. "we understand that, but the amounts of incidents in parks are minuscule."