Latest Subway Crime Is Now Just One Stop Away


Subway crime goes unreported on Roosevelt Island, part of the “safest neighborhood in New York” pitch, but no rider can miss the untreated mentally ill nearly always present. Not helping them may be the worst crime. Although not altogether comfortable with it, local riders are used to it. But that may change as serious crime migrates closer.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

It’s early Sunday morning. Kamal Semrade jumps a turnstile and boards an E train. E trains are detouring on the F line because of weekend repair work. Not far behind him is Emine Yilmaz Ozsoy, an illustrator and designer who immigrated to New York from Turkey.

Police photo of Kamal Semrade.

Ozsoy pays her fare and boards the same E train. Both get off at 63rd & Lex, one stop away from Roosevelt Island.

As the train started to depart, NYPD reported, Semrade stealthily approached the unsuspecting woman from behind and forcefully shoved her head into the moving train.

This violent act resulted in her tumbling backward onto the platform.

In critical condition, she was rushed to NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, where doctors treated her for significant spinal injuries and lacerations on her head.

This subway crime was first reported in the New York Times.

Subway Crime

Many crimes go unreported, and not just on Roosevelt Island. Victims may not want to get involved in a complicated system, and some simply distrust police. So, when outrageous acts of violence happen on the subway – or on Roosevelt Island – you wonder how far happy face reporting is from the reality.

One thing is true. A lot people, especially women, who once felt safe on the subways do not anymore. The homeless and mentally ill are not just sleeping on benches now. Some are screaming incoherently.

Some are threatening.

But what may be most disturbing about this latest offense is that the alleged attacker, Kamal Semrade, is not one of the visibly stranded and sick increasingly on trains and platforms.

He’s a homeless man who has lived, courtesy of New York taxpayers, in a shelter for two years. His employment history is unknown.

Increased Police Presence

Increased police presence is not enough. The city desperately needs mental health services. Those who are ill – whether from contagious disease of schizophrenia – and living in the subway cannot fix themselves.

The need help. And funding.

And sometimes, it’s as we observed yesterday, uniformed officers stand beside folding tables, looking at their cellphones, near the turnstiles.

This may stop some fare-beating, but it would not have helped Ozsoy.

Also, as we’ve seen on Roosevelt Island, the MTA’s highly publicized program for getting booth agents out and walking around is a joke. It almost never happens.

No surprise, then, that fear on the subways is rising – as is unreported crime – or that many who depend on mass transit feel abandoned and defenseless.

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