NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Straphangers are on alert after police said a suspect attacked a man with a hammer at a Brooklyn subway station.
And as CBS 2’s John Slattery reported exclusively, police believe the attacker has done it at least twice before – on one occasion at the very same subway station. A pregnant woman was among the other victims
Richianand Brijanand of Ozone Park said he was lucky the hammer blow to his head wasn’t more serious.
“I’m feeling, like, swelling – a lot of swelling,” Brijanand said. “It swells from here, all the way up here, to the bottom here.” He pointed to his right ear, his right temple and the side of his right eye.
Brijanand, 32, emigrated from Guyana 12 years ago and works for Staples office supplies. He was in the Rockaway Avenue and Fulton Street A and C train station in Bedford-Stuyvesant Wednesday morning buying a MetroCard when he was viciously struck.
“I went up to the machine trying to make my purchase, and all of a sudden he just hit me right in the head – boom,” Brijanand said, adding that he did not see it coming.
Brijanand said it was then that he got a look at the attacker.
“I just spun around, and when I turned around, he held the hammer again to frighten me,” Brijanand said. “He said, ‘Give me your money — after he hit me.”
Brijanand says as the thief took $140 from his wallet. He was able to get a good look at the man and his hammer.
“I guess he held it with two of his hands, because when I saw him with the hammer in hand, he held it with both hands,” Brijanand said.
Brijanand was taken to the hospital where he was treated for a head injury and released. He said with his face swollen, it is hard for him to eat.
“It is hard, because you know, we are working people, and he shouldn’t be there in the first place,” Brijanand said. “The cops should try to get him.”
The attack also left some other riders on edge.
“You don’t know what can happen at any given time,” one man told CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell.
“To use a hammer? Come on. That’s crazy. That’s crazy,” subway rider Eric Berry said.
“I think it’s horrendous. I think that there should be some type of safety protocol put in place so that people can be safe down here because that type of thing happening in a New York City subway station where it’s public is just ridiculous,” another subway rider told Burrell.
“It’s scary because I’m here every morning,” said another straphanger.
“I’m at a loss for words, it’s scary,” another rider told WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane.
Without a subway attendant at the entrance and the long tunnels, regulars said it can be easy for robbers to get away.
“We live in hard times today and it’s very rough out here, but to take an action like that, is very bad,” said another. “People work hard for their money, try to live right, but you still have evil out here.”
“We should have more protection out here. We need more cops to be here,” another straphanger said.
“It can happen to anyone at any time so you just got to be alert,” a man told Burrell.
The photos of the suspect are clear, and one shows him smiling. Police described the suspect as a black male, 5-foot-10, weighing between 130 and 150 pounds.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit nypdcrimestoppers.com or text tips to 274637 [CRIMES] and entering TIP577.
Police believe two earlier incidents are related to the Wednesday morning attack – one in a residential neighborhood in Queens, the other the same Brooklyn subway station.
Around 7 a.m. March 5, a 26-year-old pregnant woman was hit from behind in the head with a hammer at 138-49 Pershing Crescent in Briarwood, Queens. Her handbag was stolen, and she was taken to Jamaica Hospital Center, police said.
As CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported, women in that area are now on alert after the attack on the pregnant woman. Kavone Peterson’s boyfriend meets her at the subway station every night.
“I work nights; I’m a bartender,” said Peterson, of Kew Gardens, Queens. “So I get off the train and I have to walk this block all the time, so I’m very cautious. He comes and he meets me off train, so that’s a good thing, but it’s very disturbing to her that, and to know that he’s still at large.”
And this past Sunday, a 23-year-old man was knocked to the ground and beaten with a hammer, again at the Rockaway Avenue A and C train station in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. The suspect took the man’s wallet, police said.
Other attacks involving hammers have also made shocking headlines in recent months. Late last month in Astoria, three women were severely hurt when a suspect sneaked into a unit at Marine Terrace Apartments on 18th Street in Astoria, Queens.
Dawn Picota, 31, was critically injured. Her mother, Ilene Picota, and Ilene’s sister, Miriam Ozzimo, were all hit in the head and face, Brennan reported.
“One of them might be blind in the right eye. One of them lost an ear. The third needs cosmetic surgery,” neighbor David Martinez said.
Suspect Lawrence Parsons, 29, was arrested in that case and charged with attempted murder, assault, robbery, and burglary.
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