New York City police have intensified their search for an armed man suspected in the stabbings of three homeless people, including one victim who died of his wounds, officials said Tuesday.
The man is seen on video surveillance tapes watching some of the victims and taking their property before he attacked — in one case with what appears to be a large kitchen knife, said NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig. The chief spoke at a news conference called to disclose new details about the stabbings and appeal to the public for assistance finding the suspect.
According to police, the first attack in what they labeled a serial-stabbing pattern took place about 3 a.m. on July 5 near 374 West 11 St. and the Hudson River Park walkway. The suspect stabbed a 34-year-old man in the abdomen with what police described as a sharp object as the victim slept on a bench, police said. The man died of his wounds at a hospital. Police have not released his name.
Two other attacks in the crime pattern took place on Friday and Monday and victimized homeless people who were sleeping.
The Friday stabbing took place about 10 p.m. near Madison Avenue and East 49th Street, and left a 59-year-old man with a wound in the abdomen, according to Essig. About 3:30 a.m. on Monday, the suspect stabbed a 28-year-old woman inside the Stanley Isaacs Playground off FDR Drive at 95th Street. Both victims remained hospitalized Tuesday in stable condition, the NYPD said.
The suspect, described as heavy set, wore a shirt emblazoned with “Innocence Project” in two of the stabbings, police said. After the Monday attack, police tracked him to a city bus and then an East Side subway station but he couldn't be located further, the NYPD said.
“As far as the perpetrator being homeless," Essig said, "We have no indication of that now, except that he is targeting homeless individuals."
He said the suspect is not believed to have any connection to the Innocence Project, a nonprofit group that works to help exonerate people wrongly convicted of crimes. Officials with the group were not immediately available for comment Tuesday.
Chief of Department Kenneth Corey said cops were stepping up their interaction with homeless people, particularly in the late night hours, especially those sleeping on park benches or on the streets. Cops are showing them photographs of the suspect and warning of the danger on the streets.
“We need the help of New Yorkers,” said Corey. “If you know or have seen this person in these photos … call 800-577-TIPS,” with calls being confidential, he said.