A series of random attacks in Brooklyn, New York, has left residents shaken. An unidentified person slashed the back of 53-year-old Janina Popko's neck on the morning of March 10. The suspect's face was reportedly covered by an American flag bandana.
“She had blood on her neck and on her shirt,” one woman who found Popko bleeding on the ground, who would only identify herself as Shannon, told the New York Daily News. “She was crying. She didn’t see him coming.”
Before the attack on Popko, two men were stabbed in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, but the suspect, 26-year-old Keny Rochelin, who is homeless, was arrested 10 hours before Popko's slashing. Rochelin allegedly slashed a 30-year-old jogger in the hand and stabbed a 43-year-old man in the stomach on March 9, WNBC reported.
Both victims are expected to survive, but Rochelin is facing additional attempted murder as a hate crime charges for stabbing a 25-year-old Hasidic man on Feb. 10. The victim, Leiby Brikman, had a punctured lung, but he has since recovered.
Police said they’ve investigated 753 blade attacks this year, a 20 percent increase from this time in 2015. Although most blade attacks aren’t random, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said the recent slashing was apparently committed “without provocation.”
“It’s always worrisome for us when we see this,” Boyce said. “Usually there’s an argument before ... On this particular one ... it seems random.”
No suspects have been identified in the most recent attack and Popko’s injuries were deemed non-life-threatening, but her husband was by her side at a local hospital.