MANHATTAN — Police have taken four people into custody allegedly connected to a series of attacks that left at least four people slashed aboard a Manhattan subway train early Friday morning, and a fifth person injured near a Manhattan subway station, according to officials.
Authorities confirmed Friday afternoon the suspects were in police custody, but have not released their identities.
“We are confident that we have the right people in custody at this time,” a police official said at a Friday afternoon news conference.
The NYPD said the first attack happened just before 4:30 a.m. when a 44-year-old man was approached by three to five men on a southbound No. 4 train and was slashed in the mouth.
The victim exited the train at the Union Square station. The suspects continued on the train, cops said.
About five minutes later on the same train, a 40-year-old man was slashed and a 41-year-old man was punched as the train was near the Astor Place station, police said.
The victims left the train at Astor Place; the suspects remained on the train, an NYPD official said.
Minutes later, near the Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall station, a 44-year-old man was slashed during an armed robbery, authorities said. The suspects took the victim’s wallet and cellphone.
Police gave new information Friday afternoon about an additional incident that followed the slashing near Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall by about 30 minutes.
It happened at 161 Street-Yankee Stadium at Transit District 11, police said. A 48-year-old male victim told officers that near 59 Street-Columbus Circle, he was stabbed in the right eye with a knife. He was taken to a local hospital and is undergoing surgery and was said to be stable.
Officials are still investigating the details of the incident and how it relates to the other attacks, though police said they believe the four suspects in custody are responsible for all five injuries. Information about a fifth individual could be released at a later time, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said.
All five men were taken to area hospitals for treatment, police said. The extent of their injuries was not clear.
“These were five very serious armed robbery and slashing incidents at stations on the same line,” NYC Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg said in a statement. “All seemingly could have been prevented by a uniformed presence on each of these platforms,” she added.
The four individuals in police custody were seen by NYPD officials on the northbound No. 1 train at about 11:20 p.m. at the 79th Street-Broadway station, police said.
The men matched the description and images of the suspects that had been circulated earlier in the morning; they were arrested without incident as the exited the train.
Charges are pending.
“We commend the NYPD for the investigation that led to rapid arrests of those charged with committing a series of attacks this morning in the subway system,” Feinberg said Friday evening of the arrests. “The MTA has a strong partnership with the NYPD, and we applaud Commissioner Shea’s actions to provide much needed resources, including officers surged into the system, as well as the recent announcement of an additional 80 auxiliary officers. We appreciate the NYPD’s ongoing efforts to help keep riders and transit workers safe. We will continue to advocate for much needed mental health resources and other policing resources in order to do all that we can to bring riders back to the transit system, and help the city and region’s economy recover stronger than ever before.”
Officials said Friday afternoon that one of the individuals in custody was arrested for a similar crime — a knifepoint robbery — in January and was released on his own recognizance.
Feinberg and Foye have been calling on the NYPD to send another 600 officers into the subway system amid an ongoing surge in violent crimes underground.
Shea said Thursday, more than 600 extra officers have been deployed in the city, including overtime officers and auxiliary officers. He did not say the officers were deployed to the subway system.
Foye and Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Tony Utano continued their calls for more resources and officers Friday afternoon.
Shea admitted that the NYPD “has more to do” when a reporter questioned him about a lack of visible police presence in the subway system, but touted the work of department leadership and officers.
Foye called out Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration “ignoring the reality of what our employees and customers need” as 75% of customers surveyed said their main concerns have recently been crime and safety on public transit.
“We need real action, immediate action,” Foye said.
Utano called on the mayor to step up or resign. “He’s got blood on his hands.”
PIX11’s Kristine Garcia and Corey Crockett contributed.