The Brooklyn man arrested as the prime suspect in four stabbing attacks that occurred on the A train line over the weekend is facing charges of murder and attempted murder, CBS 2 reported.
Rigoberto Lopez, 21, stabbed two homeless people to death and injured two other homeless people over 14 hours along the A train line between Upper Manhattan and Queens.
In response to the attacks, MTA Chairman Patrick Foye and NYC Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg released a statement requesting the city dramatically increase the police presence in the subway system. They requested an additional 1,000 NYPD officers be placed on patrol along subway and bus routes, in addition to the 500 officers already deployed to the subway.
“We request teams of uniformed officers be assigned to every station and that officers ride the system throughout the day and during the overnight to ensure the safety of our customers and colleagues,” they noted, adding that the pandemic has exacerbated the transit system’s struggle to handle the flow of homeless people who utilize the subways and stations as living space.
Many of the homeless are people experiencing severe mental illness, and Foye and Feinberg requested the city bolster its mental health service to offer the homeless the help they may need. They asked the 311 services to be utilized for the transit system, stating, “We know there is more the city can do to get help for those who need it most – these requests must be addressed, and quickly…. While we provide transportation to millions, we simply cannot also serve as social service providers, nor do we have the deep expertise required.”
The first attack took place on Friday morning, when Lopez chased after homeless people taking shelter in the 181st street subway station and stabbed two men. The victims were taken to the hospital with non-life threating injuries.
Twelve hours later, a man was found dead in the subway, and two hours after that a woman was found severely injured at the 207 street station, and died in the hospital. The homeless woman, Claudine Roberts, had been living on the streets due to refusing treatment for her severe mental illness.
Police said Lopez, who himself was homeless, had a history of severe mental illness and had been arrested before for violence and attacking police officers.