A 48-year-old man has been arrested in connection with a hammer attack on a New York City subway that is being investigated as a possible hate crime, police said.
Christian Jeffers was arrested at around 6:45 p.m. Wednesday in Manhattan on charges of assault with a hate crime, aggravated harassment as a hate crime, menacing as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon, police said.
The victim, who is Asian, and another man were at the 14th Street station around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday when they bumped into each other on the platform, a police official said earlier.
The two men got into an argument, and the second man is alleged to have pulled out a hammer and hit the victim once in the head before fleeing.
“We are grateful for the outstanding police work by the NYPD who were able to locate and arrest the person who attacked one of our riders within 24 of the incident," Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said in a statement.
"We will always stand up for our customers and their safety, and we expect this perpetrator of a hate crime will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," he said.The attack comes weeks after Mayor Eric Adams and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul unveiled a plan to combat violence on public transit.
Adams and Hochul said in their announcement that the plan would address public safety concerns and support people who are experiencing homelessness and serious mental illness on city subways while also cracking down on subway riders who display aggressive behavior.
“For too long our mental health care system suffered from disinvestment, and the pandemic has only made things harder for New Yorkers with serious mental illness who are experiencing homelessness,” Hochul said in a statement.
“We must work together to keep our subways — the lifeblood of New York City — safe for all riders, and to get help and services to those in need."
NBC New York reported that crime on the city's public transit system has climbed by 30 percent, with felony assaults nearly doubling. Police data showed that there were 55 major crimes on the transit system in the week of Feb. 21, compared to 42 the previous week. There were 18 in the same week last year, the station reported.