NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton took to the city's subways last week (with a cop by his side) in an attempt to show NYC residents that the transit system is perfectly safe and that recent stabbings and slashings were nothing more than an "aberration." But just an hour after Bratton gave a radio interview Monday to downplay the incident, a 30-year-old rider had his chin sliced open in Brooklyn by a mentally ill man, the New York Daily News reports—the 10th knife attack in the subway this year. The two men had apparently had a confrontation before they boarded the train Monday afternoon, and 37-year-old Stephen Brathwaite, whom the paper IDs as a schizophrenic, reportedly followed his victim onto the No. 3 train and assaulted him with a folding knife. There's been a 15% to 20% rise in knife attacks overall in the city compared to last year (the Daily News and RT.com offer different numbers), with most of the subway attacks resulting from fights between riders.
The subway incidents have been concerning enough to prompt the anti-crime group the Guardian Angels to start having more of a presence underground, WABC reports. "We're increasing the visual presence, the deterrent factor. … [The police] really need to step it up themselves," group leader Curtis Sliwa tells the station. But "this is New York, and occasionally the media and police get focused on a series of incidents, and that's what happened here," Bratton countered during the radio interview Monday. And while Bratton insists the stabbings and assaults will always be a "high priority," the biggest concern his officers have in terms of frequency is "pickpocketing and theft of electronic equipment," per the Daily News. The victim in Monday's incident suffered minor injuries. WPIX reports that Brathwaite, who has eight prior arrests, faces charges of assault, menacing, criminal possession of a weapon, and harassment. (Here's why people are sometimes afraid to interact on the subway.)