Update: Suspect arrested and charged with murder after attacks that killed 4 homeless men in NYC"s Chinatown https://t.co/SuCRtxYVVX— Eyewitness News (@ABC7NY) October 6, 2019
Several EVG readers shared links to the various published reports about the murders of four men in what police say were random attacks in Chinatown early yesterday morning ... the readers also shared concern about the growing homeless population citywide, including in the East Village. What follows is a recap on what has transpired (the post has been updated)...
The four men and a fifth who was found injured were all believed to be homeless. The victims were brutally assaulted in three different locations around Chatham Square, where East Broadway and the Bowery intersect.
A suspect, named as Rodriguez “Randy” Santos, 24, is in police custody. Police reportedly found Santos, holding a metal pipe, on Canal and Mulberry. He has at least 14 prior arrests, per the Post, and was believed to be homeless.
He is charged with murder, attempted murder and unlawful possession of marijuana.
"The motive appears to be, right now, just random attacks," Chief of Manhattan South Detectives Michael Baldassano told reporters, adding that there was no evidence yet to suggest the victims were "targeted by race, age, anything of that nature."
The Times reported this about the streets around Chatham Square:
[T]he area has been changing rapidly in recent years, as Chinatown has expanded and young professionals, many pushed out by higher rents in the East Village, have begun to move in.
The neighborhood is a bustling traffic hub where commuter vans and long-distance buses vie for curb space. Signs for Chinese family and village associations dot the area. But at night it becomes a place where a growing number of homeless people look for a place to grab a night’s sleep on its quiet sidewalks and park benches.
The murders also highlight the city's struggle to combat the growing homeless population. According to statistics from the Bowery Mission cited by the Times, about 1 in 121 New Yorkers is homeless. The Coalition for the Homeless put the number of homeless people in the city’s shelter system in August at 61,674, and an annual count conducted in late January this year estimated that 3,588 people were living on the streets.
The Times noted Mayor de Blasio's "struggle" to address "the problem of the rising number of homeless people and the high rate of mental illness among them." The Post spoke with former Giuliani and Bloomberg administrators who said the growing, more violent homeless population in NYC "rests squarely with current City Hall policies."
“There’s been an increasing tolerance for the homeless on city streets, sidewalks and subway stations during this administration,” said Mitchell Moss, professor of urban policy at NYU and a former campaign advisor to Michael Bloomberg.
“The police are disempowered to remove the homeless — and New York has become less aggressive on quality-of-life issues. You used to be penalized for urinating on the street!”
As the Times reported, advocates for the homeless said yesterday's attacks "rattled the already struggling community of homeless people who frequent Chinatown and the Bowery."