Ralph Carnegary saw years of combat in Vietnam, but he never expected to become the victim of violence at the hands of a group of young women on a southbound No. 6 train.
"They were really young," the 63-year-old disabled veteran told NBC 4 New York Monday. "I didn't think it would escalate to this."
Carnegary, who sells New York memorabilia to tourists in Lower Manhattan on the weekends, was on his way downtown with a friend early Sunday morning, when the group boarded the train at 28th Street.
"They were being rowdy. They were very loud, very obnoxious," said Carnegary, who is trying to earn enough money to move with his wife out of a homeless shelter.
The trouble began, he said, when one of the women overheard him make a sarcastic comment to his friend about how loud the group was.
"They informed me that 'you're an old man, we're gonna beat you down,'" Carnegary said.
One of the women pulled a butterfly knife and started swinging at him.
"My whole focus was on that knife itself because she was lunging at me several times until I finally ran out of space," said Carnegary, who didn't even realize at first that he had been stabbed in his left shoulder.
When Carnegary realized he was bleeding he rushed off the train at Union Square and was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he received seven stitches to close his wound.
The group of young women, whose ages ranged from 15 to 20, were taken into police custody minutes after exiting the train at 23rd Street.
The alleged slasher, Starmeik Driggins, 19, was charged Monday with assault and other counts. Four other teenage women and girls face attempted assault and other charges. Two others are not being charged, and another is being prosecuted as a juvenile.
A judge set bail ranging from $500 for some of the teens to $15,000 for Driggins.
Driggins' lawyer said Carnegary kicked Driggins' girlfriend in the stomach, and Driggins tried to help her. The attorney, Ikiesha Al-Shabazz, said the scene was "bedlam."
While his physical pain has started to subside, Carnegary, who already suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, worries about the long-term emotional pain he may suffer as a result of this attack.
"It's not immediate, but it may happen down the line. I'm not sure," he said.
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