NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Following a violent stabbing rampage last week that injured five people – including a toddler – in Riverside Park South last week, Parks Enforcement Patrol officers are pushing the city to give them guns.
As WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported Sunday night, parks officers have most of the tools of the trade, but Parks Enforcement Union Local 983 president Joe Puleo said they are at a disadvantage without guns.
“They’re able to make arrests, carry batons, they carry handcuffs, they carry vests,” Puleo said.
Now, the union is pushing the city Parks and Recreation Department to sign off on arming the nearly 170 officers, saying many times, they are the first on the scene of violent incidents.
“If you’re not armed, you’re unable and ill-equipped to handle crime,” Puleo said.
The Parks Department said incidents in the parks make up just a tiny fraction of overall crime. Thus, a spokeswoman said, the officers focus on quality-of-life issues and leave crime fighting to the NYPD.
This past Tuesday, Julius Graham, 43, was arrested after the stabbing incident near Riverside Drive in the west 60s.
Police said Jessica Lipps, 32, was attacked. James Fayette, 34, was slashed, and his 18-month-old son, Luke, also had his left arm slashed. Ben Loehnen, 35, was stabbed in the abdomen, and Deanna Koestel, 36, was stabbed in the back while jogging.
Thomas Ciriacks, 49, was walking his two dogs when he witnessed Graham’s alleged rampage, and brought him to the ground. He said he witnessed the suspect attacking a woman.
Ciriacks says he ran to pass off the dogs’ leashes to someone else. Then, he and the biker distracted the man.
“He was lurching, like very zombie-esque, you know? Something wasn’t right about him. His eyes were clearly crazy,” Ciriacks said. “He let go of the woman, she ran, and he started coming towards for me.”
He said at that point, his dogs got frantic and the man moved away. But it wasn’t over – the suspect then attacked victim Fayette and his 2-year-old son.
Ciriacks said he then held the man down to prevent further attacks.
Suspect Graham is homeless, and police said he appeared to be emotionally disturbed.
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