Subway slashing suspect arraigned in connection with gang initiation ritual

A teenage suspect is arraigned for his alleged role in a string of brutal subway slashings across Manhattan Friday morning — in what prosecutors said was a gang initiation ritual.

The 16-year-old was charged with first degree assault, robbery and criminal possession of a weapon in a hearing Sunday morning.

“This defendant and his cohorts entered the subway station at 53rd street and Lexington avenue and robbed multiple individuals along the 6 train line,” Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Catherine Burns told the court.

“This defendant slashed one individual in the face, while one of his separately charged defendants screamed: ‘do it again,’” at Union Square, the prosecutor said.

The random rampage continued as the unnamed minor and his accomplices continued riding downtown, and beat up a man that was sleeping on the train at Astor Place, and slashed his friend, prosecutors said.

Gilberto Montanez with the scar left on his face from a knife attack on the New York City’s subways in Manhattan on May 14, 2021.
A victim shows the scar from a knife attack suffered on a New York City subway on May 14, 2021.
Kevin C. Downs

Another man was slashed in the face at Brooklyn Bridge station, the court heard. In that attack, the defendant is accused of robbing the victim.

“The defendant’s violence did not end there,” Burns said. “After transferring to the D train, this defendant, and his separately charged co-defendants, approach a sleeping passenger, attempt to take his backpack – and when the victim refused to relinquish his stolen property, this defendant stabbed him in the orbital with a kitchen knife. The same knife used in the two earlier attacks.

“As a result of this defendant’s brazen conduct – the victim lost one of his eyes”

**IDENTIFIED:  Taquarious Soto-Burgos, 19, (pink hair / glasses) and Joseph Foster (camo pants, bomber jacket)
Joseph Foster, who was charged in connection to the subway attacks, being walked out of Midtown South on May 14, 2021.
Kevin C. Downs

The accused teen only said “yes, okay,” when asked if he understood the charges against him.

The suspect’s Legal Aid representative begged the court for leniency.

“My client is 16 years old, he is in school full time at a specialized school in Hawthorne, NY.  He has no criminal record and very strong family structure,” the lawyer said.

Judge Michael Gaffey ordered the defendant held on $50,000 bail, down from the prosecution’s request of a million dollar bond.

“I have looked at certain factors… considered very seriously your age, and presumption of release of a person your age… based on the case currently before the court, the court does feel you pose a risk of flight to avoid prosecution,” Gaffey said.  

“I have determined that the least restrictive condition…. is bail.”

Taquarious Soto-Burgos, 19, of Brooklyn and Joseph Foster, 18, of The Bronx also face charges of first-degree robbery and criminal possession of a weapon in connection with the attacks. They have not yet been arraigned.

Police released a picture of a fourth suspect sought in the random rampage that left four people slashed and one beaten up in a span of 35 minutes.

The rash of subway violence continued Saturday at Columbus Circle, as a good Samaritan was bitten and choked on an uptown D train after he came to the aide of a fellow straphanger who was being harassed, police said.

The recent spate of crimes have made political waves, as transit officials and most of the Democratic candidates for mayor call for more cops in the system.

source: nypost.com