Prosecutors say that the man accused of killing four homeless men sleeping on Chinatown sidewalks, and critically injuring a fifth man, was found carrying the murder weapon that was "covered in blood and hair."
Randy Santos, 24, who was charged with four counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, also allegedly confessed to the brutal killings. According to the Post, Assistant Manhattan District Attorney Alfred Peterson said in court, “While [Santos] was in the 5th Precinct, he was shown video of the attacks and he admitted that he was the person in the video."
On Saturday, October 5th, just before 2 a.m., officers from the 5th Precinct responded to a 911 call about an assault in front of 2 Bowery and found two homeless men with head trauma. One, an 83-year-old man, was pronounced dead at the scene and the 49-year-old was taken to Lower Manhattan Hospital in critical condition.
NYPD officials say that two witnesses told the police that a man wearing a black jacket and black pants fled west on Doyers. Officers soon found Santos near Canal Street and Mulberry Street holding a long metal pipe and took him into custody.
The bodies of three other homeless men who had been bludgeoned to death were found hours later during a police canvas of the neighborhood. Two were outside of 2 East Broadway and the third was outside 17 East Broadway; all had head trauma and were pronounced dead at the scene.
Surveillance footage (warning, it's extremely violent) captured one of the horrific attacks.
Santos's mother explained to the Daily News that she threw him out of her Bronx home, after he started using drugs and assaulted his grandfather. Fioraliza Rodriguez said, "When I told him to leave, he came back and threatened me. He said when I go back to Santo Domingo, he’ll get people to cut my face.”
His younger brother Anthony added that he saw Santos around 8 p.m. on Friday: “I asked why he was here, and said, ‘You know Mommy doesn’t want you here.' He just asked for his jacket, because he said he was cold. And I said, ‘Yeah,’ and he just left.”
Neighbors said that Santos had been staying in an abandoned house in the Bronx for a while, with one telling the Post, "I just saw him on Friday! He didn’t look so good. He was not normal at all, talking to himself, he didn’t look clean. I gave him a plate of food."
Another neighbor said that Santos had been smoking crack, which caused to him to "[lose] his mind."
Santos had been thrown out of a Brooklyn shelter earlier this year, after apparently attacking another resident, and had been previously arrested for allegedly biting a man's chest in Midtown.
He did not enter a plea during his court hearing on Sunday. Police had previously said the attacks appeared to be random.
One of the victims, the 83-year-old who was killed on Bowery, was identified as Cheun Kok or Kwok. The Daily News reports he was known as "Uncle Kwok," with one woman recalling, "I would bring him traditional Chinese food. I would speak to him in Chinese and we would have silly conversations.”
"The callous attack against five homeless men last night is unfathomable in its brutality. Four men lost their lives and one is fighting to survive. It should serve as a reminder to all of us that our homeless neighbors live without the protection and privacy of a home," Giselle Routhier, policy director for Coalition for the Homeless, said in a statement. "They are our fellow human beings and deserve the dignity and safety that a home assures. New York City and New York State must build enough deeply subsidized housing for homeless New Yorkers to match the scale of the need in order to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again."
Earlier this year, the Coalition for the Homeless criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio for not building enough affordable housing (about 64,000 men, women, and children live in shelters, with thousands more living on the streets) as well as Governor Andrew Cuomo for the state's lack of support.
Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou said, "We make it so difficult for people to be able to get out of poverty. And our housing prices are increasing. It's getting more and more difficult to find affordable housing. You see that folks are struggling and I think that we need to be able to have a systemic change."
Niou, City Council Member Margert Chin, and others will be at a vigil held on Monday morning at 10 a.m. at Kimlau Square, 23 Chatham Square, in Chinatown: