Parkgoers express surprise, but not fear, after a recent violent attack
Residents of the Upper West Side weren't surprised by a recent attack at Riverside Park -- and vowed that the violence wouldn't scare them away from the area.
The incident occurred last Tuesday morning when 43-year-old Julius Graham stabbed five parkgoers, including an 18-month-old child, with a pair of scissors. Graham attacked a 36-year-old female jogger at 7:57 a.m., wounding her in the back, then stabbed a 35-year-old man walking his dog, another female jogger, and a man walking with his 18-month-old son, first stabbing him the chest and then slashing the boy in the arm. After another person caught and held Graham until police arrived, he was arrested and charged with assault. The victims were taken to Roosevelt and St. Luke's hospitals and are all recovering.
Alyssa Rimmer, a 25-year old resident of West 80th Street, said in an interview in the park that she felt especially close to the stabbing.
"I walk here every morning and I was actually out at the other end of the park when it happened," she said.
While the incident scared her at first, it hasn't prompted her to make any major changes in her daily routine.
"I don't feel less safe. I just think people need to be aware of their surroundings constantly, even if you're comfortable where you are," she said.
Alan Greene, 60, said that the stabbing isn't indicative of any changes in the Upper West Side's crime rate.
"I've been running here for so many years I don't even think about it," he said. "It's an anomaly. It's probably not going to happen again for another ten years."
Carl Abbott, another resident of the Upper West Side, agrees, adding that this crime doesn't compare to some of the past crimes in the area.
"I remember the west side when it was much more dangerous so it doesn't really alarm me too much," he said. "It's a large city, these things are going to happen."
Many residents agree with Carl, including 21-year-old Jack Smith who lives on Riverside Drive. Smith said that a certain level of crime is to be expected in a city of this size.
"It's the nature of having 10 million people packed into such a small area," he said. "You'll get some crazy people and some people who just want to hurt people and some people who just want to mug people."
Still, he doesn't think Upper West Siders should expect another stabbing of this sort.
"I don't think this is a repeating thing. It's just one guy. One time. One stabbing," he said.
For now, Smith said he's going to keep his exercise routine as it always was.
Regardless of the attitude of residents, some employees of the park are taking the incident much more seriously.
One employee says that the incident has changed the way he and his co-workers plan on doing their jobs.
"We normally don't focus on these situations," he said. "Normally we just try to make the park better by keeping it clean, but now that this happened I guess we have to keep our eyes open."
One resident, 37-year-old Tod Emko, says that the most important part of the stabbing is the media attention it has received.
"There is progress to be shown in that at least it is news, it's not just a run-of-the-mill appearance anymore."
"Also," he adds, "it helps if you have a big dog."