UNION SQUARE, Manhattan (PIX11) — Police continue to search for a man who they said slashed a woman in the face on the subway, and then when a good samaritan tried to intervene, the attacker slashed him, as well. The double slashing concerns some subway riders since the attacker fled, without being caught, as yet. 

It’s also got the attention of a crime analyst who points out that a steady rise in transit crimes has been declining recently and that this new crime could upset a robust holiday season. 
The attack occurred during a busy time on the rails — at 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday. But unfortunately, it also happened at a very busy place, one of the busiest stations in the subway system — Union Square, as a train approached the L train platform. 

At that location on Wednesday, subway riders had strong words that captured their frustrations.

“Before the pandemic, we just had to deal with dirty rats,” said Jeffrey Paris as he waited for a train. “Now, we’ve got to deal with human rats.”

Another rider, Fred Rossitto, said that the attack was an unwelcome shock and a warning about what could lie ahead. 

“I’ve been living in this neighborhood for 50 years,” he said, adding that back in the 1970s, crime in the area was high. Slowly, it got better, he said, until recently.

“The neighborhood was safe,” he continued, “and now it’s going back to the old way.”

Police said that while on the train, a man grabbed a 28-year-old woman, cut her with a sharp object, and made anti-Muslim comments. According to investigators, when an unrelated 29-year-old man tried to intervene on the train, the attacker put the man in a headlock and slashed him over and over on the back of his head and back. 

Joseph Giacalone, a professor of criminology at John Jay College and retired NYPD detective sergeant, said that the attack bucks a recent trend. 

“I was a little bit surprised when I saw what happened,” Giacalone said in an interview. 

He said that while transit crimes are up 41.7 percent yearly, recent crime statistics show a noticeable improvement.

“I follow the crime stats pretty closely,” Giacalone said. “We’ve had some pretty good weeks in regards to drops in transit crimes.” 

The double stabbing is an exception, according to the criminologist, who added that it’s vital that it stay that way, particularly at this time of the year when the holiday season is moving into full swing. 

“If people are afraid to come in to see the tree and do shopping,” he said, we’re in big trouble.”
He said it’s vital to have an arrest as soon as possible.  Joining in that call was the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

In response to the attacker using anti-Muslim rhetoric during the attack, CAIR emphasized a need to be treated as a hate crime and for the assailant to be brought to justice post haste. 

“If we are going to change the astoundingly low number of incidents reported to law enforcement by Muslim victims,” said CAIR Executive Director Afaf Nasher in a prepared statement, “they need to know that an effective outcome can be achieved.”