A shirtless stabber who attacked a 33-year-old man in the back in a Bronx subway station is also wanted for slashing and robbing an 84-year-old man in downtown Manhattan about 12 hours earlier, police said Friday.
Police identified the suspect as 19-year-old Diego Diaz of Brooklyn.
At about 1:10 a.m. on Aug. 7, Diaz targeted Tom Bransford outside his apartment building on Exchange Place near Broad St. in Manhattan’s Financial District.
Bransford said Diaz attacked just as he was unloading his car at a side entrance of his building after a trip to Martha’s Vineyard. His wife, who was with him on the trip, was already inside the building.
Surveillance video shows Diaz eyeing Bransford as he walked by, and then pursuing him. When Diaz first asked for his money, Bransford said he defiantly replied, “No.”
“The next thing I know he was in my face,” Bransford said.
Diaz pulled out a kitchen knife and threatened, “Give me your money or I’ll cut you,” cops said.
Bransford stood his ground, and said ‘No’ a second time. “I wasn’t thinking clearly,” said Bransford, who served in the US Marines. “He wasn’t a great big guy, so his size didn’t threaten me.”
Diaz then pushed him backwards onto the pavement and dug through his front pockets, surveillance video shows.
Bransford tried to fight off the mugger from the ground. “The old guy puts up a good fight,” said NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig.
In the chaos, the mugger slashed Bransford in the arm.
Bransford said Diaz ran off when a passerby saw his building’s luggage cart in the street and shouted. Diaz fled east on Exchange Place, with Bransford’s watch and iPhone 8 in hand.
“He’s an upstanding young man,” Bransford said of the good Samaritan, Joshua Avila, 32, who stayed with Bransford while he filed the police report.
“I was fortunate,” said Bransford, who also suffered an injury to his left elbow. He noted it was the first time he’d ever been attacked in his 50-plus years living in New York. “It doesn’t make me think about moving,” he said.
Bransford, a vice president of a non-profit organization, said relatives were shocked about the incident.
“My grandson said I’m going to find this guy and beat him. And I said, no, no” Bransford said with a chuckle.
About 12 hours later — at around 1:30 p.m. that day — Diaz was in the Bronx, where knifed a 33-year-old man in the back on an an escalator at the 161 St-Yankee Stadium subway station in West Concourse, police said.
Diaz fled shirtless from the scene. That victim was rushed to Lincoln Hospital.
Cops quickly linked the two incidents using surveillance video, noting that while carrying out both crimes, Diaz wore the same distinctive shorts.
Diaz had an odd encounter with cops on July 24, when he dropped a bag in front of two transit officers and stated, “I got a gun in the bag,” Essig recounted.
Diaz was charged with weapons possession, and released without bail.
“Then he does these two” muggings, Essig said. “He goes on a bit of a spree. It’s always the same people again and again.”
Diaz is wanted for attempted murder, and was still sought late Friday.