The stranger who attacked two women with a hammer in separate ambushes within minutes of each other near Union Square Monday is believed to be behind two other attacks on the same day, police sources familiar with the investigation tell NBC 4 New York.
Police sources told NBC 4 New York earlier Tuesday that the hammer-wielding man was suspected in a third attack, and they linked him to a fourth attack later in the day.
All four victims were attacked in Manhattan within a span of five hours, the sources said. The suspect is believed to have first attacked a 20-year-old man with a hammer near Sixth Avenue and 35th Street shortly before 2 p.m., the sources said. He refused medical attention at the scene.
About three hours later, police sources say a suspect believed to be the same man swung a hammer at the head of a 34-year-old woman in Madison Square Park, near 27th Street and Madison Avenue. The sources say authorities are trying to determine whether the head of the hammer actually hit the woman or the suspect's hand hit her as he brought down the weapon. Her condition wasn't known.
Later Monday, two women -- one in Union Square, one on West 17th Street -- were attacked in a span of 10 minutes between 7:36 p.m. and 7:46 p.m. by a man fitting the description of the suspect who menaced the woman on Madison Avenue earlier, the sources said.
One of those victims, a 28-year-old woman, was sitting on a bench in the park when she saw the suspect looking at her, police said. When she looked back, he took a silver hammer out of his bag and struck her, according to police.
The other woman attacked in that short time span, who is 33, was walking on West 17th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues when the stranger approached her from behind and hit her in the back of the head with the hammer, police said.
The woman on West 17th Street was taken to a hospital with a scalp injury, authorities said.
Both women attacked near Union Square were treated at Lenox Hill Hospital and released.
Authorities released a surveillance image of the suspect (above). Anyone with information can contact Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.