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Every cop in the city will have pictures and video of the knife-wielding attacker who has killed one sleeping homeless man and wounded two others, as the NYPD steps up its search for the serial suspect, police said Tuesday.
“These are senseless acts on defenseless people experiencing homelessness,” Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said at One Police Plaza. “We need to get this killer off our streets as quickly and as safely as possible.”
The stabbing spree — reminiscent of the March attacks on the homeless here and in Washington, D.C, — started last Tuesday when a 34-year-old man sleeping on a park bench at West and Christopher Sts. in the West Village “awoke to pain in his stomach,” Chief of Detectives James Essig said.
Video shows the attacker taking the victim’s Citi Bike and driving it around the block a few times, Essig said.
The suspect — wearing an Innocence Project sweatshirt and neon sneakers and carrying a gray backpack — then returned to the scene and stabbed the slumbering man, though the attack was not caught on video.
The victim’s backpack was taken and later found nearby but police did not find the bike.
The injured man stumbled across the street, where a passerby called 911. He was rushed him to Bellevue Hospital, where he died.
The suspected stabber struck next about 10 p.m. Friday, when he on a park bench and watched for a half-hour as his next victim slept 30 feet away, by a building at Madison Ave. and E. 49th St.
“The perpetrator then puts on a Covid mask, walks over and stabs our victim one time and walks off,” Essig said.
The 59-year-old victim, Essig said, tried to treat the wound himself and didn’t notify police until two days later. He’s now in critical condition at Weill Cornell Medical Center, a relative said.
A third man 28, was knifed in the stomach at about 3:30 a.m. Monday as he slept on a basketball court at the Stanley Isaacs Playground at 95th St. and the FDR Drive in Yorkville.
“He states he felt a punch in the side,” Essig said. “He gives chase to the perpetrator but is unable to purse due to his wounds.”
A witness told police the suspect, again clad in the Innocence Project sweatshirt, was armed with a large kitchen knife.
“He is armed and dangerous,” Essig said. “We are asking the public’s help and we need the public’s help before he strikes again.”
With the man still on the loose, NYPD Chief of Department Kenneth Corey said pictures of the suspect have been sent to every cop’s smartphone and that officers, especially at night, are talking to, “people who may be sleeping on the streets or sleeping on park benches, making sure that they’re ok, showing them the photographs, alerting them to the danger that currently exists and trying to convince them to go into shelter and also asking them if they recognize that particular individual...”
Gary Jenkins, commissioner of the Department of Social Services, which oversees the Department of Homeless Services, says its personnel are also urging the homeless to use the shelters rather than sleep on the streets.