[UPDATE] Nearby attacks put NYU on alert


John Ambrosio

A bloody sweater lays outside of University Hall following attack on a pedestrian. The suspect is still at large and the NYPD is attempting to identify him.

Alanna Bayarin, News Editor

UPDATE Saturday, Feb. 7, 12 p.m.:

On Thursday night, the New York City Police Department took the suspect who was wanted in connection with the attacks in and around Union Square into custody. He has since been charged with multiple counts of assault.

The original story is as follows:

Four people were attacked by a man with a boxcutter near Union Square last night after they did not give him money. None of the victims are affiliated with NYU, but the attacks occurred in close proximity to University residence hall. The suspect has yet to be arrested.

The assailant slashed three people in the face with a boxcutter and slapped a woman. The assaults occurred at the bus stop in front of U-Hall, on an uptown No. 4 train between Broadway and Lafayette, in the Union Square subway station and in front of the Food Emporium on 14th Street.

Randy Vasquez, the first victim, told the New York Daily News that the victim seemed unstable and was initiating confrontation with many people on the No. 4 train.

“He was screaming his mind out,” Vasquez said. “He was swaying left to right. He wasn’t stable. I thought, ‘Oh boy, another day in New York’.”

NYU sent a university-wide email informing students about the incidents. Residents of U-Hall have expressed safety concerns.

Tisch freshman Victoria Sprowls, who lives in U-Hall, said the incident has made her wary of walking around Union Square, especially at night.

“I always felt safe before in this neighborhood, but I am going to go out tonight and I am having one of my guy friends walk me back to my dorm,” Sprowls said. “I wouldn’t say that I feel unsafe but I feel apprehensive to go out alone.”

NYU spokesperson John Beckman said NYU is cooperating with the New York City Police Department in all investigations. He added that Public Safety officers have been advised on how to deal with the situation and how to keep students as safe as possible.

“Violent incidents are uncommon in our neighborhood,” Beckman said. “We have briefed all NYU Public Safety Officers about the attacks at their roll call, we have provided descriptions and reporting instructions to all of our fixed posts and mobile patrols and we have directed those officers posted to the Union Square area to be especially vigilant and report any possible sightings of the suspect.”

CAS freshman Robert DeSisto, who also lives in U-Hall, said he thinks NYU cannot do a lot about the situation, considering it did not happen on NYU property.

“I feel pretty safe once I am inside U-Hall, but I can see how, especially in the early hours of the morning, it can be dangerous walking by yourself,” Desasdo said. “The incident obviously happened outside of the building, and there’s not a lot the university can do about it.”

CAS freshman Alec Henson said he does not worry for his safety. He said NYU should let the NYPD conduct all further investigations.

“I definitely feel safe right now,” said Henson. “I think this is a series of isolated incidents that are unlikely to happen to most NYU students and NYU is probably best to leave the NYPD to do their work alone.”

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Feb. 5 print edition. Email Alanna Bayarin at [email protected]