What to Know
- NYC Mayor on Monday announced additional homeless outreach efforts and resources in Chinatown where deadly attacks on homeless men occurred
- Police identified one of the victims as an 83-year-old man and didn't release names as they struggled to identify the men's next of kins
- The alleged attacker, 24-year-old Randy Santos, was arraigned on charges of murder and attempted murder for the bloody rampage
Three of the four homeless men who were beaten to death with a metal pipe in Chinatown over the weekend were identified Monday, as lawmakers and mourners gathered at an emotional memorial for the men at Chatham Square Monday.
Meanwhile, Mayor de Blasio has announced additional homeless outreach efforts and resources in the neighborhood where the senseless attack on five homeless men, one of whom survived but is in critical condition, occurred early Saturday.
Several sidewalk tributes of flowers, candles and food were placed for the men who were allegedly killed by another homeless man as they slept. One of the mourners cried as she recalled the oldest victim, 83-year-old Chuen Kwok, always being grateful for the food she gave him. New York State asesemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou choked back tears as she spoke on the mens' deaths. "If the change isn’t now, after this, I don’t know when it is."
Advocates, at a rally Monday morning, held up a photo of Kwok. The medical examiner's office later confirmed his identity and those of two other victims: 55-year-old Nazario Vazquez Villegas and 49-year-old Anthony Manson. The four man was still unidentified as of Monday afternoon.
A vigil for the slain men is expected to be held Tuesday at Kimlau Square at 5:30 p.m.
The alleged attacker, 24-year-old Randy Santos, was arraigned on charges of murder and attempted murder for the bloody rampage. He did not enter a plea and was ordered held without bail.
The attacks left blood splattered on the doorways and sidewalks where the men had been sleeping.
The area where the rampage occurred includes the Bowery, which has long been a location where those living on the streets have made their nighttime resting area.
No response.— Ken Buffa (@KenBuffa) October 6, 2019
Randy Santos now faces multiple murder charges for allegedly beating four homeless men to death as they slept on the streets of Chinatown. @NBCNewYork pic.twitter.com/bvONxJz9ps
The city Department of Social Services said the area is canvassed twice a week by homeless outreach workers. The department will increase the frequency of the visits.
“We are sending experts to the neighborhood to provide support during this difficult time, and will continue to assess how to prevent tragedies like this from happening in the future," said de Blasio.
The city will dispatch mental health outreach teams at community locations in the neighborhood throughout the week to provide emotional support and connect people to social services. The NYPD will also provide additional patrol, according to the Mayor's office.
However advocates like Giselle Routhier from Coalition for the Homeless are now imploring the mayor to do more. “He needs to build housing for homeless New Yorkers. It’s that plain and simple.”
Police officials told News 4 they believe Santos has a number of past arrests for assault, including one in May for an alleged assault at a Brooklyn homeless shelter.
Deputy Chief Michael Baldassano, the commanding officer of Manhattan South, said police believe all of the victims were sleeping when they were attacked.
The attacks appear to have been random, Baldassano said, but an investigation is ongoing.
Another homeless man who had slept in the area, Stephen Miller, said he knew one of the victims as kind and quiet.
"No one knew him by name, but we saw him every day," Miller said. "At this point, I'm just sad. This guy never did anything. Just had a life to live. It sucks that he's out here in the rain and everything, but it doesn't mean he doesn't have a life to live."
The suspect's mother, Fioraliza Rodriguez, 55, told the Daily News she had kicked him out about three years ago. He struggled with drugs, assaulted her and his grandfather, and stole from the family, she said.
"I never thought he would kill someone," she said. "I was afraid of him, though, because he punched me. That's when I told him to get out of my house."
New York City's homeless population has grown to record levels over the past decade, and the homeless remain among the most vulnerable residents. In the past five years, an average of seven have been slain each year.
De Blasio launched new homeless outreach efforts early in his tenure in an attempt to move more people off the street and into shelters, but the program has faced challenges.
City efforts to build more homeless shelters have dragged due to neighborhood opposition.