Police arrested a 21-year-old Brooklyn man and charged him with murder for the stabbing deaths of two people found on New York City subways late Friday night and early Saturday morning.
The deaths were part of a violent 14-hour stabbing spree that involved at least four victims across separate incidents along the A line, police officials said Saturday. The fatal stabbings occurred on opposite ends of the line in Manhattan and Queens just two hours apart, police said.
According to police, the stabbings could be linked to a single individual with the first incident reported around 11:30 a.m. Friday and the last one around 1:30 a.m. Saturday.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea held a press briefing Saturday afternoon to redirect 500 of his officers to patrol the transit system above and below ground.
The first victim found dead was reported to police around 11:30 p.m. Friday in Far Rockaway. Responding officers found a man covered in stab wounds on his neck and chest inside a train car at the Mott Avenue and Beach 22nd Street station.
Two hours later, at the other end of the A line, police say a 44-year-old woman was found around 1:20 a.m. at the West 207th Street and Broadway station. A 911 call had been made for a woman lying unconscious under a subway bench.
The two nonfatal attacks — one involving a 67-year-old man and the other involving a 43-year-old man — also occurred in upper Manhattan.
Authorities believe all four victims were homeless.
"I take nothing more seriously than the safety of New Yorkers, and that's certainly includes those who ride and work on our public transit system," Shea said Saturday.
Deputy Chief Brian McGee said officers on patrol in the northern Manhattan neighborhood where three of the four stabbings occurred spotted Lopez, who fit the description of the suspect being sought in the attacks, at 6:15 p.m. Saturday.
The officers brought Lopez to the local police precinct for questioning, McGee said. A knife was recovered from Lopez and will be analyzed to determine whether it was the weapon used in the attacks, McGee said.
Lopze has been charged with two counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder, officials said. It was not clear yet if he had legal representation.
Transit officials called the 500 extra officers “an important first step” while asking for another 1,000 officers to be deployed to subways and buses to stem the violence.
“We request teams of uniformed officers be assigned to every station and that officers ride the system throughout the day and during the overnight to ensure the safety of our customers and colleagues,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority CEO Patrick Foye and New York City Transit interim president Sarah Feinberg said in a letter to Shea and Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday.
Overall crime is down, according to the MTA and NYPD, but the past year has seen a rise in felony assaults despite a 70 percent drop in ridership amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The deaths of two people aboard subway cars Friday night and early Saturday morning are the latest in a string of violence across the subway system.
Police say a man was approached on the platform of the 1 train at Christopher Street on Thursday night and stabbed in the stomach in an unprovoked attack. Earlier on the same day, police say someone shoved a 72-year-old man to the ground as he was waiting for the 7 train at the 5th and West 42nd Street station.
Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the rise in violent crimes on Tuesday, saying that the subway is much safe now compared to how things were not long ago.
"We have more to do always...and that’s why NYPD has added additional personnel to the subways," de Blasio said.