Innocent until proven guilty and all that, but this MySpace photo of the man suspected of fatally stabbing two men on a No. 2 subway train Sunday morning doesn't look good. Police have arrested three men in connection with the incident, which the victims' friends claim started after the assailant got hit in the head with a plastic bag containing empty beer bottles. Last night police charged all three suspects with second-degree murder; CBS2 reports that 19-year-old Brenddy Garcia of Brownsville, Brooklyn was also charged with criminal possession of a weapon.
The arrests came after several people were rounded up early Thursday and questioned in connection with the homicides. Sources tell the Post—which is reporting that Varella and Hernandez were released without charges—that Garcia confessed to the stabbings but claims he was fending off a group of 7-8 drunken men who hit him in the head with a beer bottle.
Unsurprisingly, Garcia's side of the story differs markedly from the account provided by the victims' friends, who claim that they accidentally hit the stabber with a bag of trash that was intended for the station platform. Both victims, and several others in their group, had police records. And sources tell the tabloid that Garcia, who has no criminal record and was returning from a baby shower in the Bronx, is giving this version of the larger groups' behavior:
All of them had spent the night partying at Cellar Bar in The Bryant Park Hotel. As soon as they boarded the train, they began menacing the passengers, according to the suspects' friends and other witnesses. The witnesses said the gang woke a homeless man, then terrified a young woman. After she fled the train, they allegedly confronted other riders, including the stabber and the other two suspects.
Soon, the victims and their pals began lobbing trash at the smaller group, the witnesses told cops. The 19-year-old was hit with the bottle and furious words were exchanged. The larger gang allegedly began moving toward the smaller group. They started fighting as the train traveled between the 14th Street and Christopher Street stations.
On the other hand, victim Darnell Morel's cousin tells CBS2, "He's only 24 and hadn't lived his whole life yet. Now it's over. And I heard he was the one who was trying to calm down the fight. He was trying to tell everybody like chill, chill, chill, and look what happened."
UPDATE: Police have dropped the charges against two of the suspects; sources tell NY1 that there was not enough evidence to move forward with charges against them.