A 24-year-old homeless man accused of using a metal rod to bludgeon four other homeless men to death is charged, the New York Police Department said on Sunday, Oct. 6.
Authorities said Randy Santos is charged with four counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and unlawful possession of marijuana.
Santos, wielding a long metal bar, rampaged through New York City’s Chinatown early Saturday attacking other homeless people who were sleeping, killing four and leaving a fifth with serious injuries, police said.
The attacks left blood splattered on the doorways and sidewalks where the men had been sleeping, including The Bowery, which has long been a location where those living on the streets have made their nighttime resting area.
Santos had a metal rod with him when he was taken into custody. Police said he had undergone a psychiatric evaluation.
“The motive appears to be, right now, just random attacks,” Chief of Manhattan South Detectives Michael Baldassano said, adding there was no evidence yet that the victims were “targeted by race, age, anything of that nature.”
Santos has been arrested at least six other times in the past two years, three times on assault charges.
Police identified one of the victims as an 83-year-old man and haven’t released other information on the victims yet.
Police responded to a 911 call just before 2 a.m. as one assault was in progress. They found one man dead in the street and a second with critical head injuries.
A search of the neighborhood turned up three additional bodies.
The New York Post published photos of two of the victims under white sheets, one slumped in a blood-spattered doorway, the other on the sidewalk.
Two of the men were killed on The Bowery, which cuts through the heart of Chinatown and has for decades been known as New York’s skid row. Two more died on East Broadway, the neighborhood’s main street.
The lone known survivor was hospitalized in critical condition. Police planned to interview him as soon as possible, Baldassano said.
Another homeless man who had slept in the area, Stephen Miller, said he knew one of the victims as kind and quiet.
“No one knew him by name, but we saw him every day,” Miller said. “At this point, I’m just sad. This guy never did anything. Just had a life to live. It sucks that he’s out here in the rain and everything, but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a life to live.”
The suspect’s mother, Fioraliza Rodriguez, 55, told the Daily News she had kicked him out about three years ago. He struggled with drugs, assaulted her and his grandfather, and stole from the family, she said.
“I never thought he would kill someone,” she said. “I was afraid of him, though, because he punched me. That’s when I told him to get out of my house.”
Family members told the newspaper that Santos started using drugs when he arrived from their native Dominican Republic about four years ago. The article did not cite a specific drug.
“When I told him to leave, he came back and threatened me,” the suspect’s mother said. “He said when I go back to Santo Domingo, he’ll get people to cut my face.”
New York City’s homeless population has grown to record levels over the past decade, and the homeless remain among the most vulnerable residents. In the past five years, an average of seven have been slain each year.
Mayor Bill de Blasio De Blasio tweeted Saturday that he’s “stunned and horrified by this senseless act of violence against the most vulnerable members of our community.”
The attacks happened in one of the few downtown Manhattan areas that has retained its character as a center for new immigrants, through gentrification has started to creep in lately.
During the day, it bustles with small shops, restaurants and markets doing business in Chinese, as a mix of residents and tourists pack the sidewalks. At night it can be desolate in some sections.