The NYPD has arrested a man accused of beating and stabbing a woman while yelling racist statements in the subway last year. Police say 33-year-old Aleksejs Saveljevs of Manhattan Beach stabbed and punched home health aide Ann Marie Washington, 57, as she was exiting the Q train at Church Avenue in Flatbush on November 9th, 2018.
Saveljevs allegedly targeted Washington because of her race, screaming "black bitch" as he attacked her. He fled the scene after fighting off another woman who tried to protect Washington, escaping on a southbound train despite Washington and others trying to alert the train conductor.
“It’s still fresh in my mind," Washington told the NY Post last year. "I’m walking off the platform and saw a white guy — well-groomed — standing. As I pass him, I feel blows on the back of me."
Washington did not immediately realize she had been stabbed, and EMS who evaluated her did not notice her wound either. Police say she declined medical attention and walked home, but later realized her injuries were more severe, and was taken to Kings County Hospital with a collapsed lung, undergoing surgery and remaining hospitalized for several days. Washington's daughter speculated that her mother may have been stabbed with an ice pick.
"The police, at the time, didn't even drive her home," then-state Senator Jesse Hamilton said after the attack. "She had to walk home not knowing she had a punctured lung."
The NYPD at first described the incident as an "attempted robbery," and initially said that it was not being investigated as a hate crime, sparking outrage from the Flatbush community and local elected officials who accused the NYPD of not taking the investigation seriously.
"Now we're playing catch up to what would have been the proper response at the time," Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said at a press conference days after the attack as he questioned why no one had stopped the train the assailant used to escape. "In the age of video surveillance, why don't we have a photo that is already posted? This madman is still out there, and we don't know if he has an ice pick, we don't know if he has a knife."
Saveljevs was apparently arrested for an unrelated assault that occurred on November 8th, a day before Washington was stabbed. Police say he randomly attacked an off-duty police officer who was walking his dog in Sheepshead Bay. He allegedly shouted at the officer in Russian "before bashing him in the face with an unknown object," the NY Post reported.
The officer sustained a fractured cheekbone and lacerations to his head and face, and Saveljevs was arrested the following day, several hours after allegedly attacking Washington. He was initially held at Coney Island Psychiatric Ward, where he reportedly assaulted another patient during a dispute over toilet paper.
An NYPD spokesperson said today that Saveljevs has likely been in Rikers since being transferred out of the psychiatric ward. He now faces charges of attempted murder, assault as a hate crime, attempted assault, menacing, and criminal possession of a weapon, among other charges.