A maniac in Crocs and socks appears to have targeted victims at random in two well-heeled neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Manhattan, leaving a trail of blood and fear behind.
Police have yet to officially link the two attacks — one at a popular food vendor in Fort Greene on Wednesday, the other on an Upper East Side sidewalk on July 14.
But surveillance video from both incidents show a remarkably similar suspect, down to his choice in casual footwear.
“One hundred percent, it was him,” said the victim in the Upper East Side attack, speaking to the Daily News on Saturday.
Video shows the man, who’s dressed in orange shorts, white socks pulled up over his calves and brown Crocs, walking on Park Ave. near E. 81st St. about 6 a.m. on July 14 right before attacking the 37-year-old victim.
Suddenly, the man strikes the victim in the head as they pass each other. The victim believes he hit her with a metal object that ripped a deep gash in her head that left her “gushing” blood and required four staples.
“He wanted to kill,” the victim, who has a 3-year-old daughter, told The News. “I’m very thankful my daughter still has a mom. I’m very thankful I’m still alive.”
On Wednesday afternoon, what looks like the same suspect came up behind a worker at Mr. Mango on Lafayette Ave. near Fulton St. in Fort Greene and stabbed him in the right shoulder with a screwdriver in an unprovoked assault before stalking off.
Neighbors of the Upper East Side’s victim called the attacks worrying Sunday afternoon.
“I think it’s sad and depressing that this sort of violence happens anywhere, but the fact that it’s reached Park Ave. just speaks to the decay that New York City is experiencing,” said one resident, a woman in her 40s who only gave her first name, Regina.
The 19th Precinct, which covers the Upper East Side, has seen a 49% jump in major crimes this year, including a more than 51% spike in robberies and a 30% increase in serious assaults since July 24.
“Crime in the city is going up and it’s unfortunate that it’s happening in all locations, not just affluent ones. It’s scary to me because I’m a big runner and I’m a teacher and go out very early to get my jog in and get to work,” said Beth Hudack, 37, who lives on the Upper East Side.
“It’s like you try to do all the things to stay safe and bad things can and will still happen. But what can you do? I have to live my life and keep going to the subway before 6 a.m. You at some point just hope for the best and stay alert.”
In Brooklyn’s 88th Precinct, which covers the part of Fort Greene where Mr. Mango is located, crime is also on the rise though not as sharply. The precinct has seen an almost 24% spike in major crimes through July 24, with robberies up 14% and serious assaults up 15%.
Customers at the fruit stand were subdued in their reactions to Wednesday’s assault.
“I’ve lived here since 1989. When I first moved here it was really crime-ridden. People really generally get along with each other. I don’t think I’ve seen or heard anything like the stabbing in years. It’s very rare,” said one resident, Doug Beube.
Another resident, Dee Luo, described the neighborhood as safe, despite the attack. “I feel like it’s not really a crime issue. This area does not feel unsafe. It’s more like how can you help people who are struggling, like the homeless, instead of how do you stop crime?”
Police ask anyone with information about either attack to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.