NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police have arrested a suspect in a murder at a city homeless shelter as slashings and stabbings continue to alarm New Yorkers.
CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported Monday that police arrested 53-year-old William Smith. He is accused of slashing and killing a homeless man inside the Bellevue Men’s Shelter on East 30th Street Friday morning.
Less than a day later, Smith allegedly slashed a livery cab driver he tried to rob.
“There’s a horrible problem. It needs to be fixed, but people need to be somewhere,” East Village resident Claire Robertson said.
Homeless slashings and stabbings clashed this past weekend as a Times Square Alliance worker was stabbed near the “Crossroads of the World” Sunday by a suspected homeless man.
“Something can be done, but everybody, I think, at this point is dragging their feet on things,” East Side resident Mary Mayback said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said police have increased patrols where there have been a high percent of slashings or stabbings. After the 90-day review of the city’s homeless services, NYPD officers are now training shelter security.
“NYPD is very much on the case,” de Blasio said. “They’ve proven they can continue to drive crime down over 20 years and they’re going to handle this situation too.”
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance also recognizes the growing problem of homelessness and violence. He said the issue is deeper than what weapon they use.
“There is no single answer but what I see leads me to conclude that focusing on mental health is going to be part of the solution,” Vance said.
De Blasio said the city is looking on how to get those with mental health problems the support they need.
“We’re continuing our efforts to determine if someone has a history of violence, a history of mental health problems, how we identify them early and get them either the mental health support they need, or if they are not yet done with the criminal justice system, how we expedite what the criminal justice system is doing with them,” the mayor said.