October 2, 2013 New York (WABC) – The man accused of attacking five strangers during a stabbing spree in a Manhattan park Tuesday is expected to face charges.
And now, authorities are using the frightening incident to highlight the potential threats of untreated mental illness to police and New York City residents, which they say is an ongoing issue highlighted by a number of recent events.
Police say 43-year-old Julius Graham was brandishing a pair of scissors during the rampage, which began around 8 a.m. on West 65th Street in Riverside Park and continued south along the Hudson River bike path.
Graham, who is emotionally disturbed, homeless and originally from Texas, allegedly stabbed 36-year-old Deanna Koestel in the back on the running path. Police say he then attacked 36-year-old Ben Loehnen, who was walking his dog, stabbing him in the stomach.
He then slashed 32-year-old jogger Jessica Lipps in the neck before coming upon 35-year-old James Fayette and his 2-year-old son Luke in a stroller.
Fayette was slashed in the chest while trying to protect his son, who suffered a slash wound to his arm. The child’s stroller sat in the middle of the crime scene, surrounded by police tape.
“The baby was screaming, the father was shielding him,” eyewitness Billy Bednarz said. “The father was covered in blood, and he was doing the best to protect his kid.”
Fayette eventually subdued the suspect with the help of a bystander, and the pair held him on the ground until officers arrived.
“A Good Samaritan saw what was going on, tackled the guy, got him to the ground and held him until the cops arrived,” Bednarz said.
Koestel, Lipps and Fayette remain hospitalized at Roosevelt Hospital. Loehnen is at St. Luke’s, and the 2-year-old was treated and released.
Police say emotionally-disturbed suspects present some unusual crime-fighting problems.
“We respond to almost 90,000 emotionally-disturbed peolle assignments a year, so it’s a major obligation and challenge for the department,” NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said. “But that’s the situation which we find ourselves in. There is no easy answer.”
Graham, who was staying in a shelter in the Bronx last week, was taken to Bellevue Medical Center for psychiatric treatment.
He is charged with five counts of assault, criminal possession of a weapon and resisting arrest.
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