One of the men who helped stop Tuesday’s stabbing spree in New York City’s Riverside Park said he’s no hero for subduing Julius James Graham, the deranged homeless man who allegedly attacked five people, including a toddler.
Graham, 43, was taken into custody shortly after the stabbing attack in Riverside Park and was undergoing a mental evaluation at Bellevue Hospital, according to CBS New York. The spree went on for nine minutes before a dog walker and a man on a bicycle stopped Graham.
Armed with one half of a pair of scissors, Graham approached his first victim, 36-year-old jogger Deanna Koestel, and stabbed her in the back. He then walked one block and allegedly stabbed a 35-year-old man, Ben Loehnen, in the stomach, and then slashed the throat of 32-year-old Jessica Lipps. Witness Shurita Fields told PIX 11 that Lipps was screaming. “I told her to be calm and that we were going to stay with her until she’s okay,” Fields said.
Loehnen and Koestel were listed in critical condition.
Graham also allegedly stabbed 34-year-old James Fayette and Fayette’s 2-year-old son, who suffered a slash wound to his arm.
Thomas Ciriacks, the dog walker, relayed how he helped catch Graham as the homeless man allegedly stabbed Lipps.
“He made a slashing motion across her throat — I still didn’t see a weapon, didn’t see anything like that, but it was apparent that it was serious,” Ciriacks, 49, told CBS New York.
Ciriacks held Graham down while the man on the bicycle distracted the suspect.
“He was lurching, like very zombie-esque, you know? Something wasn’t right about him. His eyes were clearly crazy,” Ciriacks said. “He let go of the woman, she ran, and he started coming toward me.”
The suspect then got away and attacked Fayette and the toddler.
“I heard the screaming from behind me, which was the man with the child,” Ciriacks told CBS New York. “We pulled him, the guy, off of the man with the child.”
Then Ciriacks subdued Graham for good, stopping the spree.
“I stood on his arms, on his head a little bit, and kicked the scissors,” he said. “It was half of a scissors. That was the first time I saw the weapon.”
Despite his actions, Ciriacks said he wasn’t a hero.
“The man with the kid is the hero. He, of his own volition, came to the aid of this jogger with me and my dogs,” he said. “That guy is the hero, and he paid for it. He’s the hero.”
New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the Riverside Park attack did not mean that the city’s parks are dangerous places.
“Parks are very, very safe,” Kelley said, according to PIX 11.
But Geoffrey Croft, the director of the nonprofit NYC Parks Advocates, disagreed, saying the attack in Riverside Park was one of four violent incidents in recent weeks.
”Over the last five weeks alone, there have been four violent incidents [in city parks],” he said. ”We’re asking how many more people have to get hurt or killed before they start taking the enforcement of our parks seriously.”