NEW YORK – New York City police arrested a homeless man late Saturday in connection with a series of subway stabbings that killed two people and wounded two others.
According to the New York Police Department, 21-year-old Rigoberto Lopez is facing two charges of second-degree murder, two counts of attempted second-degree murder and a single count of first-degree murder, NBC News reported.
Lopez, who is accused of ambushing homeless people as they slept in the subway on Friday and Saturday, reportedly told one of the victims, “I’m going to kill you,” The New York Times reported.
Lopez, whose last-known address was a Brooklyn hotel used by the city to shelter the homeless, was taken into custody Saturday night in Upper Manhattan.
According to the Times, the two victims killed in the attacks included a man found in Far Rockaway, Queens, and a 44-year-old woman discovered in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood. A 43-year-old man and a 67-year-old man were wounded in separate attacks, police confirmed.
Eric Adams, Brooklyn’s borough president, characterized the city’s current approach to subway safety as “failing,” citing a spike in violent attacks on public transit.
“The perpetrators of this violence are often struggling with some form of severe mental illness, and their targets are frequently some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers, including our homeless neighbors who seek out the subway system as a refuge during the winter months,” Adams said in a statement.
Meanwhile, New York City Transit Authority President Sarah Feinberg called the system “ground zero” for the city’s mental health crisis, calling on officials to increase both mental health and police resources to improve safety, the Times reported.
“We have begged for help, and we continue to need it,” Feinberg told the newspaper.