Cops: Brooklyn Killing Spree Suspect Spent Time In ‘Drug Den’
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The man being blamed for the deaths of four people in Brooklyn was a no show in court Monday as a new lawyer was assigned to his case.
His bloody clothing seized as evidence, Maksim Gelman wore a white jumpsuit during his Sunday night arraignment. While being escorted into a police car, Gelman yelled an obscenity and claimed he was the victim of a “set-up.”
Attorney Edward Friedman tells 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg that he has not yet met Maksim Gelman
None of his comments offered any real insight into the motivation of what police said was a 28-hour crime spree that included seven stabbings, three of them fatal, two carjackings, and one motor vehicle homicide.
Detectives believe his obsession with a woman from his neighborhood in Sheepshead Bay may have played a role — something his current public defender did not discuss.
“He seemed calm and rational. I don’t want to get into his mental state at the time of the incident,” said attorney Michael Baum.
Gelman is being held without bail. He was assigned a new lawyer, Edward Friedman, who had no comment about the case. Friedman told CBSNewYork.com he was hoping to meet with Gelman in the very near future. Friedman succeeds Baum, who had served as his public defender.
As for charges, Gelman faces 4 counts of murder, 1 count of attempted murder, 1 count of assault, 2 counts of robbery and 2 counts of criminal possession of a weapon.
Friedman said he expects Gelman will be indicted as early as Friday.
On Monday, investigators told CBS 2′s Tony Aiello they found what they are calling a drug den under the Long Island Rail Road tracks along Ocean Avenue. They said it’s the very spot where Gelman spent much of his time in the weeks leading up to the rampage.
And it’s also the place where you’ll find what looks like a sign of his obsession — a graffiti heart and the spray-painted name “Yelena.”
“I don’t know how this could have happened. One day she’s there, next day she’s gone, for no reason,” said Dave Kuras, a friend of murder victim Yelena Bulchenko.
Kuras visited the shrine outside the Sheepshead Bay home where she and her mother were murdered. He said he also knows suspect Gelman from their days at Lincoln High School.
Gelman attended but apparently never graduated from Lincoln, and he doesn’t seem to have made much of an impression. People who knew him said he was more interested in skateboarding than scholastics.
Acquaintances said Gelman smoked a lot of pot in high school and later drifted on to more dangerous drugs.
“Smoking dust, and um, anybody in their right mind wouldn’t do this, had to be drug related,” Kuras said.
The violence began before dawn Friday when, investigators said the 23-year old Ukrainian immigrant stabbed his stepfather to death after he refused to give up the keys to his Lexus.
Gelman then allegedly took the car and drove to Bulchenko’s house. Police said he stabbed her mother to death, then waited for the 20-year-old to come home.
When she did several hours later, police said Gelman chased her into the street and stabbed her to death.
WCBS 880′s Irene Cornell on the crime beat
“He was obsessed with her but she wanted nothing to do with him,” said Aleksandra Ilyayeva, Bulchenko’s friend.
After Gelman allegedly slashed and carjacked a man in Brooklyn, police said, he then ran down a 62-year-old pedestrian who died of his injuries.
“People were running out for their lives,” said witness Michael Rogers.
Gelman then allegedly carjacked a livery cab driver early Saturday morning and disappeared into the mass transit system. He was finally tackled by two police officers and arrested around eight hours later in a subway tunnel under Times Square.
Police said Gelman attacked and unsuccessfully tried to kill a passenger on the number 3 train Saturday before trying to force his way into a motorman’s car.
“He’s about two to three feet from me and he takes out a knife, and he looks at me and says ‘You’re gonna die. You’re gonna die’,” recounted victim Joe Lozito.
Lozito’s encounter with Gelman and that large knife took place inside a subway car back in the tunnel, between Penn and Times Square stations.”
It was close quarters. Lozito told CBS 2′s Jay Dow that he knew he wasn’t going down quietly.
“I decided to fight. I didn’t want to die. I have a family. They need me and I need them. And I knew if I didn’t do something he was going to carve me to pieces,” Lozito said. “He took the first swing at me and then when he brought his arm back I knew I had to get in there, so I went for his leg or his waist to try to take him down, and fortunately the police were there and they helped me.”
Lozito was headed home his wife and two young sons, a reluctant hero. His wife Andrea said she was not surprised by his actions.
“I know that what was going through his mind, as it was happening, that he wasn’t going to let this man take him away from his family,” she said.
“If anyone is married with kids, that’s why you do what you do,” he said. “I get a little emotional because I’m grateful to be alive. For sure, I mean, I didn’t think I was making it off that train alive.”
That Lozito was not enjoying the spotlight and gave credit to the police officers on board that train says something else altogether about his character.
“These guys right here, they put their life on the line. I am no hero,” he said.