Suspect in Slashing of Cabbie and Homeless Shelter Slaying Arrested: Sources

The suspect wanted for questioning in connection with a fatal slashing of a homeless man at a Manhattan shelter and the non-fatal slashing of a cab driver in Queens Saturday morning was taken into custody Monday, law enforcement sources said.

William Smith, 53, was taken into custody near 31st Street and Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria Monday morning in connection with the two slashings, sources said.

The latest slashing happened as a 43-year-old cabbie dropped off a man identified as Smith at a Holiday Inn on Van Cleef Street in Corona.

When the cabbie asked for his fare, police said, Smith allegedly pulled a knife and demanded money.

The driver refused to hand over his cash and that’s when he was slashed across his neck and back.

"In that moment, I just felt a pinch, nothing else," the cabbie, Manuel Vera, told Telemundo-47. "I didn't felt as I was getting stabbed, I am not sure if it was because I was desperate at the moment. But after I reacted, and I saw the injury." 

Vera was taken to Elmhurst Hospital for treatment. 

Smith fled empty-handed, but officers found his wallet and cell phone near the scene of the attack, investigators said.

He got off the train in Astoria, and as he walked down from the elevated subway platform, more than a dozen police officers and U.S. Marshals were waiting for him, officials said. 

Police said Saturday that Smith was wanted for questioning in connection with a deadly slashing at a homeless shelter in midtown Manhattan on Friday morning.

A 56-year-old man was found dead at the Bellevue Men’s Shelter on East 30th Street around 8:30 a.m.

The victim had been slashed across the neck, and the room he was in was in disarray, as though a struggle had taken place, investigators said.

The Department of Homeless Services said it’s continuing to upgrade security at shelters across the city following a number of headline-grabbing crimes. 

Meanwhile, in Elmhurst, residents are worried after Saturday’s violent attack.

"It’s very scary," Carlos Polanco said. "We have to be really careful."

In a statement released Saturday, the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers expressed concern over the growing use of cutters and knives in attacks on cabbies. 

NYSFTD Spokesman Fernando Mateo said attackers who use knives instead of guns are getting away with little or no jail time.

"A box cutter or knife will KILL the same as a GUN," Mateo said in the statement.

Charges against Smith are pending, authorities said.

Attorney information for the man wasn't available.  

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