Felony subway assaults haven’t slowed despite 140M fewer NYC riders

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Serious assaults in the New York City subway system have not slowed down — despite more than 140 million fewer straphangers riding the rails this year, according to city stats.

The NYPD recorded 62 felony assaults in the subways over the first six weeks of this year, the same number of attacks reported over the same period in 2020, police data shows.

Minor assaults have dipped 45 percent, from 202 last year to 110 through Feb. 14 this year — when daily ridership dipped 70 percent on average, according to MTA and NYPD stats.

The numbers back up recent concerns among city officials and New Yorkers following a series of high-profile acts of violence in the underground transit system.

“Ridership is way, way down, as you know, but to the extent that crime is either up or staying steady, we would like to see it go down as much as ridership is,” Interim Transit President Sarah Feinberg said on WNYC Wednesday.

Overall, major crime on the subway is down nearly 60 percent — and, so are arrests, which are half of last year’s numbers for the first six weeks of the year, the data shows.

The 207th Street subway station where one of the "A-Train Ripper" attacks took place.
The 207th Street subway station where one of the “A-Train Ripper” attacks took place.
Robert Miller

The NYPD has deployed hundreds of cops into the subway system to help combat the recent spate of attacks, and the MTA has called for 1,000 more officers.

Feinberg said flooding the subways with cops “is not about putting a bunch of uniformed police officers at fare arrays to make arrests on fare evasion.”

“This is about making sure that there’s a presence in the system. These officers are standing on platforms, they’re stepping onto trains,” she said.

“The most important thing is that people not only are safe and secure, but they feel safe and secure, particularly as we’re trying to bring the city back.”

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, asked during a radio interview on 1010 WINS this week if he felt the 500 additional officers were sufficient, said the department is “constantly evaluating the number that we have.”

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Subway commuters taking the at the 59th Street and Lexington Ave. station.

Matthew McDermott

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Subway commuters taking the at the 59 and Lexington Ave. station.

Matthew McDermott

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Shea also griped that suspects in transit assaults are too often released by the court system — and citing one serial puncher as the poster boy for the recidivism.

“I think {cops) do a yeoman’s job of trying to help all people all across this city, including people with mental illness, including people who are homeless,” Shea said. “But we also need to have a situation improved, where we encounter the same people over and over again, and it seems that there’s no improvement.”

“What we can do, small fixes, when we catch people committing crimes, they need to be held accountable,” he said. “I just looked at a guy that’s assaulted six separate people in the last year.”

“How many people have to be beaten up before somebody goes to jail, I would ask.”

According to police and court records, Jose Gonzalez, 48, has been busted six times for punching random victims, including a 74-year-old Bronx church deacon who was slugged aboard a subway car in January.

Half of the alleged assaults took place in the transit system, records show.

“Don’t shout,” Gonzalez allegedly yelled at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Deacon Frederick Kurr during the Jan. 5 attack. “I just felt like punching someone.”

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NYPD officers on patrol at the 42nd Street subway station on February 16, 2021.

Robert Miller

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An NYPD officer on patrol at the 42nd Street subway station on February 16, 2021.

Robert Miller

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Records show that Gonzalez — who remains on the loose — was most recently busted for allegedly punching a 48-year-old man on a No. 1 train on Jan. 26.

On Nov. 22 he was charged with punching a 20-year-old man at the West 225th Street station in Melrose. On Nov. 4, police said he was accused of punching a 34-year-old woman in the face on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

On Oct. 19 police said Gonzalez allegedly hit a 33-year-old man in the face in Bay Ridge.

On Aug. 25, he allegedly punched a 53-year-old woman while trying to steal her phone on Riverside Boulevard and West 61st Street, police said.

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NYPD officers on patrol at the 59 St. Columbus Circle subway station on February 17, 2021.

Robert Miller

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NYPD officers on patrol at the 59 St. Columbus Circle subway station on February 17, 2021.

Robert Miller

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Meanwhile, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday morning a city review of how alleged subway ripper” Rigoberto Lopez, who has a history of mental issues, fell through the cracks of the criminal justice system and social services.

Additional reporting by Larry Celona, Amanda Woods, David Meyer, Tina Moore, and Jorge Fitz-Gibbon

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