Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Eyewitness Accounts: A Woman is Stabbed in the Face by a Blunt Smoking Homeless Man

New in disturbing news about the subways:
Woman stabbed in face with a pen after telling homeless man to stop smoking a marijuana blunt on the 3 train.

Here are two eyewitness accounts:

I was on this train and was one of the samaritans who held this guy down until the cops arrived. Here's some more background, which the article didn't report.
- The guy started rolling a blunt (it wasn't a cigarette, not that it truly matters), and the argument started when he tried to light it. The argument went on and was pretty aggressive (verbally) for about a minute before he swung at her and hit her with the pencil on the forehead.
- Pretty quickly after this a few witnesses pounced on the guy and pinned him in the corner of the car. He was fighting back pretty strongly, and at one point he got his hand into his pocket and grabbed a (folding) knife.
- Even though his hand was free at this time, his arm was restrained and a witness very quickly was able to take the knife away.
- It took a while between when the fight started (between 14th and Chambers, on the express) and when the cops arrived on the platform at Chambers. While we were holding him, it was pretty clear that the guy had a lot of problems. (If that was unclear previously.)
The homeless guy was definitely crazy and the aggressor here, but the lady also was - in my opinion, and with hindsight - acting out of hand. It was pretty clear watching this develop that neither of them was going to step down, and that this guy was going to go after her. I can't stand people smoking or being rude on the train, but she definitely needlessly put herself (and others) at risk.
It all happened quickly and I jumped in when the fight broke out, but afterwards I thought that if the guy got to his knife (or worse) more quickly, it could have been a real bad situation. There are worse things than people smoking on the train, and I walked away a bit later very upset at the lady.
Two more things... after giving a statement at the precinct the detective told me that the homeless guy had 56 priors. (FIFTY SIX!) And, because some other commenters alluded to race... both the man and the woman were white - it definitely wasn't a racial thing.


I rode the train earlier than usual today in an attempt to get to work earlier than usual. This train ride was definitely not the usual. Here's what happened:

I'm riding the train, reading my April Elle and still smirking from the cutie who kept making eyes before just getting off the train. (Super random interjection, but why didn't he just say something? I definitely caught him staring 3+times. This isn't the L missed connections here buddy. OK. This is rude. This story is bigger than this. /digression)

We continue riding and I hear a commotion. A woman is yelling at a guy, but I'm not sure what it's about. I chalk it up to stressed out New Yorkers and continue reading about Gwen Stefani & No Doubt's reunion assuming they would soon realize they were being silly and stop. They don't. The woman gets louder and says "Don't light that thing on the train!" I look over and see that the guy she's yelling at has a lighter and the flames seem larger than normal. It wasn't one of those $.99 cents Bic lighters, it was pretty hardcore. Congratulations kids, I'm now alarmed. The woman continues to tell the guy to stop and tries to knock the lighter from his hand and things get physical. The entire train is looking at this go down and people are starting to get a little frantic. The man tells the woman "I will f*cking kill you". The woman yells at the man "I will f*cking kill YOU!!" They are pushing one another. Another woman steps in to help.


This is where I get mad. Like, livid. I don't care if this is a feminist society and we're in the middle of a freaking bra-burning campfire. If a man is getting physical with a woman, why in the hell are men just standing around looking?!? My brain couldn't process this. I finally literally yell out "Why aren't any of you men helping?!?" At that point, 2 men run over to try to help restrain the guy. For context, this guy is probably 5'7 150lbs...I could probably take him. I'm in the middle of the car trying to calm people down and I look over and see blood gushing from the woman's face. While she was restraining the guy in the corner, he took out his knife (edit: according to reports it was a pen) and SLASHED her face - from her temple to her nose. Yes. I'm riding the train to work...and someone has just gotten stabbed in the face. Twilight-freaking-zone. The craziest part is that the woman continues to try to get the knife (pen) from the guy and beats his hand until he drops it. She's obviously running on adrenaline. We are still between 14th & Chambers.

People are freaking out. 2 of us step up. 1 guy stops the people from pulling the emergency lever. That will only make the situation worst. I send someone to the conductor so he can call the police. The train starts to slow down though we are 2 stations away in an attempt to give the cops time to get to the station. The guy is now being held up by 5 guys in the corner. The woman is sitting on the train bench with blood gushing from her face and I'm standing there trying to calm people down. People are looking at me for instructions on what to do next, but what could we do?!

I started praying. Out loud. I prayed for that woman's health, her face and her family. I prayed that we were all safe. Amen.

We finally get to the train cops. I run to every single car on the train and ask for a doctor or nurse. There wasn't a single medical professional on the entire train! (Note to self - donate to a cause getting more kids interested in healthcare) The guys are still restraining the man. 2 trains of people are out, trying to see what is going down. There were plenty of witnesses. A girl even took pics on her iphone. The MTA guy was attending to the woman. I could do no more. I am shaking...and I start to walk to work. I was 2 stops away, but I needed that time to pseudo-decompress from the craziest train ride I've ever had.

This woman was doing what she thought was right. She was standing up to this man for her safety...for our safety. This story will probably not make the news because this is New York - it's not news unless someone brutally dies...or someone involved is famous. My colleague was on a train behind me and was simply told "We are being held because of an 'incident' on an earlier train". I will never think of "incident" the same again.

--Ronetha from her fantastic blog


1 comment:

  1. As a conductor on the #2 train I was pulling into 180th St. I opened the doors and a lady came to my window and asked if she could kiss me. I said sure and she layed one right on the lips. That was a great day.