New York City

Vigil Held Monday for Homeless Stabbing Victims as Advocacy Groups Call for More Aid

NBC Universal, Inc.

A vigil was scheduled for Monday afternoon by elected officials to honor the victims attacked by a Brooklyn man along the A subway line Friday and Saturday.

Elected officials representing different parts of the city and state planned a vigil for 3 p.m. Monday outside the 207th Street station in upper Manhattan.

Earlier in the day, the man charged with stabbing the four victims, two fatally, was ordered held without bail. Rigoberto Lopez was arraigned on murder and attempted murder charges. A court complaint said he confessed to the attacks.

A message seeking comment was left for Lopez’ attorney.

One victim was discovered dead on a subway train in Queens late Friday with several stab wounds to his neck and torso, police said. Two hours later, a 44-year-old woman, Claudine Roberts, was found stabbed to death in a subway car in upper Manhattan.

Her father, Winston Roberts, told the New York Post that she struggled with mental illness since her teens. She had had been living in a shelter after recently getting out of a hospital, but she stopped by his home just Wednesday, he said.

“I loved my daughter,” he said. “I tried to do the best for her.”

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. NBC New York's Adam Harding reports.

Lopez also is charged in two other attacks in upper Manhattan subway stations late Friday and early Saturday. The victims, both men, survived.

Authorities believe all four victims were homeless.

Police leaders said they would deploy an additional 500 officers into the subway system to guard against future assaults. Transit officials say it's "an important first step" while asking for another 1,000 officers.

“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.

Ridership remains down across subways and buses, at least 50 percent or more for both. Despite the drops, MTA and police officials confirm a more than 25 percent increase in felony assaults.

"We have also urgently asked for additional mental health resources - including for the 311 service to be expanded to the transit system - and we continue that call today. We know there is more the city can do to get help for those who need it most - these requests must be addressed, and quickly," Feinberg and Foye said.

The Coalition for the Homeless released a statement Saturday declaring a failure to house the homeless during the pandemic "a matter of life and death."

"Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo need to respond not with more stigmatization and callousness toward people without homes, or heavy-handed police removals, but with real and immediate access to housing for unsheltered New Yorkers," Giselle Routhier, policy director for the coalition, said.

VOCAL-NY similarly called for immediate action from the state and city's top elected officials.

"[Cuomo and de Blasio] have continued to address the crisis with punitive, criminalizing actions like the overnight closure of subways and the removal of benches from train stations. Instead, they could be dedicating funding for desperately needed supportive housing units," the group said Saturday.

Copyright NBC New York/Associated Press
Contact Us