Police officials said in a Saturday morning news conference that the attacker, who is also believed to be homeless, wielded a metal pipe and bludgeoned the men while they were sleeping. Police found the bodies scattered throughout the Chinatown area. Santos was charged with four counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.
Authorities have not named Rodriguez Santos as the suspect, but The New York Post reported his name via sources, calling him Rodriguez “Randy” Santos. A fifth man survived an attack. The beating deaths unfolded in the early morning hours of October 5, 2019. “That’s like a serial killer, right?” said local resident Philippe Leong to The New York Daily News. “If he’s capable of doing that, what else would he be capable of? That’s a serial killer.” One victim was 83 years old.
The World Journal, a Chinese-U.S. news organization, obtained video allegedly showing one of the attacks. You can watch it later in this article, but be aware that it’s very disturbing.
Here’s what you need to know:
NYPD Called the Deaths a ‘Random Attack’
New York police confirmed to Heavy that five people were injured in what they are defining as an “assault.” They said it happened in the confines of the 5th precinct and stressed that they have not publicly identified the assailant.
Police commanders Stephen J. Hughes and Michael Baldassano provided preliminary details on the multiple assaults that occurred in the Chinatown area of Manhattan in a press conference.
According to Hughes, a 24-year-old male person of interest is in custody in connection with the deaths of four males and serious assault of the fifth male victim. He stressed the investigation is preliminary.
Here’s the video:
Officers in the 5th precinct received the first call at 1:49 a.m. for a “person being assaulted.”
“They discovered an unconscious male lying in the street with severe head trauma,” Hughes said. A second male with head trauma also approached officers at that scene at Bowery near Division St. and two witnesses informed responding officers that the suspect was an unknown male wearing a black jacket and black pants who struck the victim “numerous times in the head with a metal object and then was fleeing westbound.”
Santos’ Family & Neighbors Described Him as Troubled; He Moved to New York From the Dominican Republic
According to The New York Post, Santos was living in an abandoned building because his family had kicked him out of their home. He has a child in the Dominican Republic and was described by neighbors as spaced out and not right in the mind, The Post reported.
According to the New York Daily News, the suspect’s mother Fioraliza Rodriguez described him as troubled: “He struggled with a drug habit, stole from the family, assaulted her and his grandfather,” the newspaper reported, adding that he arrived in New York from the Dominican Republic about four years before.
Asked for more details on the weapon, Baldassando stated, “we’ll call it a pipe.” He said the motive was “random attacks,” indicating that it doesn’t appear people were targeted due to race, age or any protected characteristic.
Rodriguez, Who Has a Lengthy Arrest History, Is Accused of Taking a Metal Pipe From a Fence
Officers began canvassing the area, and they spotted a man fitting the witness description carrying a metal object. They confiscated it and placed him in custody, according to Hughes. The New York Daily News reported that the suspect was carrying the pipe on his shoulder that he obtained from a metal fence. An extensive search located three additional victims. Four of the five were dead at the scene. Police were canvassing the area to make sure there weren’t more victims. Two of the additional victims were found at East Broadway near Catherine St., and the third was not far away from there.
According to Daily News, the suspect has a lengthy arrest history featuring “a half-dozen prior arrests in the last two years, including one for attempted assault with a weapon just five months ago in Brooklyn.” The New York Post reported that Rodriguez Santos was previously accused of biting a man’s chest after jumping over a store counter. His last known address was in a Brooklyn homeless shelter, according to The Post.
Baldassano stated that it’s “very early on in the investigation.” He asked additional victims to contact police. The surviving male is still being interviewed. “We did discover a weapon, a pipe, close by,” said Baldassano. “At this point it appears the victims were sleeping” when attacked. The New York Post reported that the attacker got the pipe from a construction site.