Copycat attacks? Psychologist has possible theory behind recent uptick in slashings

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SOHO, Manhattan – A young man stands outside the Supreme Skate and Gear shop in SoHo bleeding, and stunned.

It has happened again. Another victim has been randomly slashed on the streets of New York City.

“Some guy came up to him, and said gimme the bag," eyewitness Nell Richards said. "And he said no. And with no reaction, he just sliced him up."

Eyewitnesses say as the victim walked out of the shop, an unidentified suspect approached him and tried to take his belongings. When the victim refused, he was slashed in the face.

The suspect ran as the huge crowd watched in disbelief.

Police responded, and the victim was taken to the hospital.

“The slash was like as thick as my finger," Jamal Green said. "As thick as this, and he was just holding on. And it was just gushing. And he was just holding on and applying pressure.”

It's been called another random attack because police say of the several other slashing incidents – which have made the news over the last couple of months – none of them are connected.

That also goes for another slashing attack against a restaurant waiter just few blocks away, one night earlier.

There are no known gang ties in all of these cases. Just a different suspect and victim every time.

The only common thread is the manner in which the victims have been attacked.

“When we see the same type of crime that typically hasn’t occurred with this degree of frequency, now occurring all together, in a small window of time, you wonder if it’s maybe a contagion effect,” said forensic psychologist Dr. Jemour Maddux.

Forensic psychologist Dr. Jemour Maddux said what’s happening on the streets may be a combination of a raw increase in criminal activity and the theory posed by NYPD Commissioner Bratton - a slashing spree fueled by the media’s fixation on the incidents.

"This is a public health issue, this connecting these different things," Dr. Maddux said. "And that’s what all of these individuals have in common. They have the media in common. And it’s my opinion they have psychiatric issues in common. When you see that they have operated in some of the same systems, you wonder if there’s a public health view of this situation can capture the variability that we’re seeing cross these different perpetrators.”