BROOKLYN – A disturbed straphanger slashed another man across the face during an attack on a No. 3 train in Brooklyn, police confirmed Tuesday.
The 30-year-old victim was waiting at the Pennsylvania Avenue/Livonia Avenue station with a friend around 12:40 p.m. when they noticed the suspect, identified as 37-year-old Crown Heights resident Stephen Brathwaite, staring at them while pacing back and forth, he told police.
The victim said he asked the suspect what he was looking at and Brathwaite allegedly hurled hot coffee onto his back and asked, "Wanna fight?"
The train arrived and both men got on separate cars before walking toward each other. They confronted each other between the two cars and Brathwaite pulled out a folding knife and slashed the victim's right cheek, according to police.
Officers cuffed Brathwaite at Crown Heights/Utica Avenue station. His knife was later found on the train at Nevins Street, according to police.
The victim's injury was not life-threatening.
News of the incident and arrest caught a few riders like Pauline Winfield by surprise.
"I'm scared for anybody to walk close to me and that is terrible," said Winfield, who has lived in the city for 29 years. She said the recent rise in slashings as well as the randomness of the attacks have her concerned. "You can't be walking on the street and be afraid to even look back to walk straight. You have to be looking and looking to see if anybody is coming up behind you."
Brathwaite faces charges of assault, menacing, criminal possession of a weapon and harassment. Police say he has eight prior arrests.
The attack marks the eighth slashing in 2016. Crime in the New York City transit system is now up 35 percent since this time last year, according to NYPD statistics.