Suspect in Grisly Slashing Spree: I Was Set Up

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The enraged graffiti artist accused of killing four people in a bloody 28-hour slashing and carjacking spree across two boroughs claimed that he "was set up."

    Maksim Gelman, 23, snarled at a crowd of angry onlookers as police hustled him out of a Brooklyn precinct Sunday on his way to court for his arraignment.

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    Shouts of "Pig! Killer! Rot in Hell!" erupted from the crowd as he emerged.

    The ill-fated romance that allegedly fueled his murderous rage was all in his mind, friends of the young woman he fixated on and is charged with killing told the New York Daily News.

    "That was all in his head," said a friend of the late Yelena Bulchenko, slain at age 20.

    "They were never a couple -- barely friends," her pal Andrey Andriak told the paper. "He wanted to take it to the next level and she didn't."

    While on the run, he allegedly spray painted a shrine to Yelena, filling it with red hearts and her name, according to the New York Post.

    Arraigned in Brooklyn Criminal Court on charges of second-degree murder, robbery and assault, Gelman was ordered held without bail Sunday in the Brooklyn attacks.  He did not appear at a procedural hearing in Brooklyn Monday but was assigned another attorney, Edward Friedman.

    He likely will face charges in Manhattan for slashing a subway passenger just before transit cops arrested him in Times Square Saturday morning.

    Gelman did not enter a plea in Brooklyn Criminal Court.

    The suspect's first attorney, court-appointed public defender, Michael Baum, said Sunday that Gelman was lucid and understood the charges against him. Baum would not address Gelman's claim that he was the victim of a set up.

    "When I spoke to him tonight he seemed calm and rational," Baum said. "I don't want to get into his mental state at the time of the incident."

    Gelman's violent spree began with the stabbing death of his mother's boyfriend, Alexander Kuznetsov, 54, early Friday morning, officials said. Next Gelman turned his rage on Yelena Bulchenko, first fatally bludgeoning her 56-year-old mother, Anna, detectives say. Gelman hid in their Sheepshead Bay home and ambushed Yelena when she arrived to find her mother dead in a pool of blood, according to police.

    Fleeing that murder scene, investigators say Gelman became increasingly reckless, stabbing and carjacking Art DiCrescento, then running over a pedestrian who later died of his injuries.

    "He was driving recklessly ... passing all lights and everything," said Michael Rogers, a witness who tried to chase the suspect after he mowed down the pedestrian. "People were running for their lives."

    "He was trying to mow down anybody," Rogers added. "Anybody that was in his way ... he was going for."

    Gelman then slashed a livery cab driver across the face and carjacked another victim, police said.

    Sheldon Pottinger, a 25-year-old machinist, was sitting in a Nissan Maxima outside his church on Eastern Parkway when Gelman threatened him with the knife, took the driver's wheel, and sped off. Pottinger jumped out of the moving vehicle, but not before his hands were slashed by the knife.

    "I believe that the guy is possessed," Pottinger said. "He's gone. Something took a hold of his mind. I saw him at the jail cell when I went to pick him out of a lineup and they couldn't hold him. They had to tie him down in a chair. "

    After Gelman ditched Pottinger's car, commuters recognized the stabbing and carjacking suspect as he boarded a subway train Saturday morning. Police flooded the train at the Times Square stop.

    In a final desperate act of violence, Gelman allegedly knifed straphanger Joseph Lozito in the head. He was treated and released from Bellevue Hospital after the struggle with the suspect.

    "I'm lucky," Lozito told the News. "Four people are dead. I am not."