The 37-year-old suspected of slaying a straphanger in a grisly murder on the D train was not provoked before the vicious attack on Saturday, according to prosecutors. When suspect Gerardo Sanchez boarded the first car of the northbound train at around 2 am at Rockefeller Center, he seemed "disorganized and disoriented before and after the shocking violence," a witness told police, according to the Post.
A passenger claims that when Sanchez boarded the train, he looked disturbed and was "eating something, making a mess." Then the suspect approached victim Dwight Johnson, 36, who was sitting near the door on a three-seat bench, and demanded that Johnson move his bag from an unoccupied seat to make room. According to the Post, Johnson pointed out that there were other seats on the train. Sanchez allegedly stated: "No, I want this seat."
Johnson had already "without a word" removed his bag from the chair when Sanchez flipped out, shouting: "You think I'm scared of you? I'm not scared of you!" Johnson did not reply. That's when Sanchez pulled out a steak knife and stabbed Johnson twice, hitting his hands and neck, puncturing his carotid artery. After the attack, the suspect pried open the subway doors and dropped the murder weapon on the tracks and began mumbling, "I want to go home, I gotta go home, I gotta go home," a witness said.
Though Sanchez has claimed that Johnson punched him first, prosecutor Eric Kratville called the murder "a completely unprovoked attack on an unarmed stranger in front of 20 to 30 witnesses" at Sanchez's arraignment yesterday. "There were a number of empty seats on the subway, but this defendant insisted on sitting in that seat," Kratville said. Sanchez — whose friends and family claim he had been acting oddly and abusing pain medication since he fell at his exterminating job two weeks ago — pleaded not guilty Sunday and was held without bail.
More details have also emerged on the victim, who according to the Daily News was "a mentally ill germophobe who used his bag to keep people at a safe distance." Phenix Hall, a volunteer who befriended Johnson at a soup kitchen years ago, told the paper that Johnson — who was estranged from his family and had trouble staying on his medicine — was "very paranoid" and had an erratic temper. "He didn't like people to sit next to him. Dwight was famous for placing his bag on the seat beside him," said Hall, who noted that Johnson's attachment to his bag actually ended their friendship. "I was sitting on a park bench and he wanted to put his bag where my bag was," Hall said. "We argued and he pushed me. He was tormented by his illness."