Officials are still searching for a man who slashed a woman and a bystander in a hate crime incident on the New York City subway. According to the police, the incident occurred last week on Tuesday on an 8th Avenue-bound L train. The suspect allegedly stared at the 28-year-old woman for multiple stations. While she ignored him, he moved closer and closer until he was directly in front of her. He then made anti-Muslim comments, punched her, and then slashed her in the face for ignoring him, a schoolteacher identified as John Catania told the New York Daily News.
Catania stepped in only to get punched and slashed himself. “I thought it was just punches, but he had a blade on him,” Catania said. “A waterfall of blood came down from my neck. I said, ‘Where’s all this blood coming from?’”
Catania added: “I don’t want to act like some hero. I just stepped in. You cannot do that. You can’t lay your hands on anyone like that, especially a woman. I wish I could have done more. “
According to officials after the attack, the suspect—who is believed to be homeless—took off at Union Square Station. Catania and the Muslim woman were taken to Bellevue Hospital for treatment.
“I got, like, 26 staples in my head. I got cut all in the back of my head and my upper back,” Catania told CBS News. Catania noted that he also wishes someone else had also stepped in to help.
“I was really hoping someone would help me out,” he told the Daily News. “I just ended up alone.”
The incident was not the only one to occur last Tuesday: According to police officials, another man was stabbed by the subway after an argument escalated. A 34-year-old man was attacked after arguing with another man, theNew York Post reported.
Across the country, transit crimes have increased, causing fear in commuters. According to 1010 WINS, violent crimes in New York City subways have increased by 35% when compared to the same time period last year.
“A lot of my family members stopped taking the train because of their safety,” commuter Anderson Valdez told CBS New York. “They feel threatened and all of that.”
“Before the pandemic, we just had to deal with dirty rats,” Jeffrey Paris another commuter subway said. “Now, we’ve got to deal with human rats.”
As the city’s hate crime task force investigates the incident, the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement: “We pray that the victims of this violent assault recover quickly and heal from this trauma,” Executive Director Afaf Nasher said. “Hate crimes need to be addressed with urgency, and that includes when the victim is Muslim. If we are going to change the astoundingly-low number of incidents reported to law enforcement by Muslim victims, they need to know that an effective outcome can be achieved.”
While people often argue that ignoring advances or harassment can protect one from a situation escalating, this scenario and several others show otherwise. The unfortunate reality is that if someone wants to attack you, they will. In several situations women who have ignored the person who assaults them have triggered violence by doing so. The dark truth is that there is no solution to avoiding being attacked outside of better security measures and laws in place to prevent attacks.
Additionally, mental health resources need to be accessible to all, as many of these attacks are often connected to homeless or mentally individuals who are not able to access the help they need. America needs to do better to help its people. Without the resources needed to combat hate and other issues, such incidents of violence will continue.
The New York Police Department has asked that anyone who has information on the attacks reach out to their Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). You can also submit a tip on their website or via DM on Twitter, @NYPDTips. All calls and tips are kept confidential.