Police: Attacker beats 4 fellow homeless men to death with metal pipe in New York
By WES PARNELL, NICHOLAS WILLIAMS, THOMAS TRACY AND LARRY MCSHANE | New York Daily News | Published: October 5, 2019
NEW YORK (Tribune News Service) — A vagrant wielding a metal pipe savagely beat four sleeping homeless men to death early Saturday as they hunkered down for the night on the streets of New York's Chinatown, police said.
A fifth homeless man was critically injured, suffering a serious head wound, before police nabbed Randy Rodriguez Santos, 24, as he walked near Canal Street with the murder weapon resting on his shoulder, cops said. One of the victims was an older man, somewhere between age 60 and 80, a source told the New York Daily News.
Santos, who also was homeless, was taken to the Fifth Precinct for questioning, but no charges were filed immediately in the 1:45 a.m. attack. He was arrested in May for threatening a man inside a Brooklyn homeless shelter, but the victim refused to press charges, according to law enforcement sources.
Police responding to a reported Chinatown assault in progress found one victim lying dead on the ground with a massive head wound before a second man with similar injuries approached them on Bowery near Division Street. Two witnesses told cops that the attacker, in a black jacket and pants, bashed the slain man in the head multiple times before walking away.
Cops soon located three other lifeless victims about a block away: two in front of 2 East Broadway, the other outside nearby 17 East Broadway, with all killed by grievous head wounds. Santos was arrested at the corner of Mulberry and Canal Streets, about a half-mile north of the East Broadway killings, and he surrendered the weapon without any trouble, cops said.
The pipe was apparently taken by Santos from a metal fence, and cops were searching the area for other possible victims, according to police.
"That's like a serial killer, right?" said local resident Philippe Leong, 49. "If he's capable of doing that, what else would he be capable of? That's a serial killer."
The survivor was rushed to New York Downtown Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition.
Homeless man Simba Bassir, 59, said he was sitting on a park bench in Kimlau Square sharing a beer with one of the victims only hours before the killing spree began.
"This morning, when I came back, he got killed," said Bassir, fighting back tears. "That could have happened to me too, if I was there. When a friend of mine passes away like this. ... It's not supposed to be happening."
Police said Santos has a rap sheet with a half-dozen prior arrests in the last two years, including the attempted assault with a weapon just five months ago in Brooklyn. According to sources, Santos had a history of fighting and arguing with other homeless people.
Cops had no motive for the savage attack and believe that Santos – whose last known address was in Brooklyn – was acting alone when he went on the lethal rampage.
"I'm just shocked," said neighborhood resident Kay Mok, 37. "Usually stuff like that doesn't happen over here that much."
The Coalition for the Homeless, an advocacy group, released a statement calling the slaying "unfathomable."
"It should serve as a reminder to all of us that our homeless neighbors live without the protection and privacy of a home," said Giselle Routhier, the group's policy director. "They are our fellow human beings and deserve the dignity and safety that a home assures."
Rocco Parascandola contributed to this report.
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