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Subway Hero Stops Latest Random Attack

Sean Conaboy pulls assailant with knife off woman in New York City
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2021 11:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – Without warning, a man with a knife stabbed a stranger standing on a Manhattan subway platform on Wednesday. Reports suggest the victim could've easily died—if not for the heroic actions of a bystander, who immediately sprinted into action. More:

  • Surveillance video from 14th Street-Union Square station shows a man dressed in black with what appears to be a large knife suddenly attack a woman near the edge of the platform just after 10pm, per WABC. Both fell to the ground, but before they did, a bystander in a blue shirt was seen sprinting toward them.

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  • The bystander, Sean Conaboy, had taken notice of the woman before any sign of trouble. "I was looking at the track" and "she's the nearest person to the edge of that platform," he tells WABC. "And suddenly she got yanked backwards and screamed, and this dagger or knife very quickly appeared and made an arching sweeping turn … I knew someone was being attacked."
  • Conaboy ran toward the victim and her attacker, arriving just as they hit the ground, with the man positioned on top of the woman. Conabay knocked the man over, falling to the side. The attacker then positioned himself over top of the woman again. This time, Conaboy jumped on his back.

  • They rolled until the attacker was on his stomach. Conaboy appeared to put his whole body on top of the attacker. "I'm trying desperately to keep him down, facedown, because I know that if he gets up, or if he can turn on me … I'm a potential victim," he tells WABC.
  • Two onlookers quickly joined Conaboy, holding down the man's legs until police arrived. Officers charged 22-year-old Joshua Nazario with four counts of assault and criminal possession of a weapon.
  • The victim, 54-year-old Kelli Daley of Brooklyn, was stabbed multiple times around the collar bone and the back of her shoulder, per the New York Daily News. WABC reports Conaboy's actions "almost certainly saved the woman's life." She was able to get up from the ground before being taken to a hospital for stitches.
  • A man was stabbed five times in the side during another unprovoked attack on the subway last month. The cases come amid claims that the New York City subway is increasingly dangerous. Per the New York Times, "overall crime is down, but so is ridership, which has pushed the per rider crime rate higher than it has been in recent years and created a sense of greater danger."
  • Bloomberg notes "a spike in assaults and harassment incidents in New York's transit system is threatening its ability to restore ridership," which sits at "40% of pre-pandemic levels." It adds that "20% of riders may never return, with more people opting for remote work or preferring cars or bikes," to the chagrin of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which faces a potential $1.5 billion deficit by 2024.
  • While Gov. Andrew Cuomo has complained about an underpoliced MTA, Mayor Bill de Blasio says the subways are safe and fears about crime are exaggerated. Still, he said Monday he would deploy 250 more police officers to the subway, adding to the 3,000 already on patrol, for the largest force in the system in 25 years, per the Times.
(Read more New York City Subway stories.)

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