NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There is new information about the murders of four homeless men in Chinatown.
Police say they believe the man charged in the deadly beatings may have attacked another homeless man last month.
Authorities say Randy Santos’ violent crime spree did not begin when he bludgeoned those four homeless men to death and seriously injured another man.
Investigators now say one week before the murders, a 38-year-old homeless man was attacked near Chelsea Piers on Manhattan’s west side.
Police allege Santos was near the scene.
“We have him approximately seven blocks away. Very clear video who we believe is Mr. Santos on that evening. We believe he was responsible for that attack at this point,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said.
The NYPD says a homeless man told them he was sleeping on a park bench when he was woken up by a man beating him with a stick. That victim claims they continued to fight and the attacker tried to throw him over the bannister into the river.
Santos had been arrested 17 times before. Six of the unsealed arrests include a trio of assaults.
The most recent happened at a Brooklyn homeless shelter where he was staying. The Coaltion for the Homeless says the city failed him.
WEB EXTRA – Coalition for the Homeless talks about the New York City’s response to the homeless crisis:
“We need to make sure people can connect. He was in the system. He had been identified as someone who had issues and I think that’s a big gap that he was not able to be connected with the services that he needed,” Giselle Routhier of the Coalition for the Homeless.
Critics say Thrive NYC, first lady Chirlane McCray’s initiative to help New Yorkers with mental health problems, failed Santos and the city.
McCray dodged CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez questions Tuesday afternoon.
“Can we ask you a quick question about the Chinatown murders? What do you say to your critics?” Sanchez asked Mayor de Blasio’s wife.
She would not respond. Mayor de Blasio did respond.
“What do you say to the critics that say that Chinatown murders are proof that Thrive NYC isn’t working?” Sanchez asked the mayor.
“I think it’s an absolute misunderstanding of what’s going on here,” de Blasio claimed.
“We have a very tragic incident here, but not one that from what we know so far that could have possibly been predicted from what we saw in this case.”
With his arrest, Santos’ history will hopefully not repeat itself.
Tuesday night, those four victims were remembered in a candlelight vigil in Manhattan.
WEB EXTRA – Vigil held for the 4 murdered homeless men in Chinatown, CBS2’s Valerie Castro reports:
Maria Vazquez clutched a picture of her father Nazario Vazquez Villegas, overcome with emotion.
Initial reports said all of the victims were homeless, but family members claim that was not true of Vazquez Villegas.
“He was at the wrong place at the wrong time, because he had a house, he had a family, grandchildren,” one person said.
“My father was a wonderful man, he loved many friends, nice person with all people,” Daniel Vazquez, the victim’s son said.