The man accused of slashing a woman on a 3 train in Brooklyn Tuesday night has been arrested. Ras Alula Nagarit, 37, of East Harlem, surrendered to police in Coney Island last night and has been charged with assault, criminal possession of a weapon, and menacing.
Nagarit's victim, 29-year-old Natalie Lewis, got into an argument with Nagarit after they bumped into each other on the Atlantic-Ave-Barclays Center 3 train platform around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. The argument continued on the train, where an enraged Nagarit reportedly yelled at Lewis, "I’ll chop you up right on this fucking train! The police aren’t here now. You’re trying to get help from the crowd. They can’t help you! I can just chop you and they can’t do nothing!"
Nagarit then allegedly slashed Lewis on one of her hands, using a sharp object wrapped in cloth. Her injuries were described as minor. Nagarit fled at the next station, but before that Lewis managed to take his photo, which the NYPD distributed Wednesday.
The assault was the latest in a series of unrelated slashings across the city over the last two months. On Monday, 71-year-old Carmen Rivera was slashed in the face on a D train in Greenwich Village, seemingly at random and without provocation. Her alleged attacker, Damon Knowles, fled, but was later arrested and charged with assault. Also on Tuesday night, Christopher Santiago, 32, was slashed on a 6 train as it passed through Harlem. No arrests have been made in that investigation.
There have been at least nine publicized incidents perpetrated by separate suspects since the last week of November. Police say there have been five subway slashings so far this year, compared with three over the same period in 2015.
So far, there does not appear to be any link between the slashing incidents. But NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert K. Boyce admits the recent string of attacks is "a little unusual for us.” NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton told the NY Times he does not believe there have been any "copycat" attacks. "Each one seems to have its own motivation when we make the arrest and we get into what was behind it," Bratton said, adding, "some of the individuals we’re dealing with are emotionally disturbed, or off their meds."
And yesterday morning Bratton himself rode the subway with a bunch of cops and concluded, "It is a very safe subway system... They jam in like sardines. It’s amazing anybody can assault anybody because you can’t really move on some of those cars."