Subway Rider Stabbed By Mentally Ill Panhandler In Harlem: A Case For Healthcare

September 2, 2017

A mentally ill panhandler pulled a knife on a Manhattan train early Saturday — then plunged it three times into the stomach of a straphanger who still wouldn’t give him money.

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And since the train was on a long, express haul from Harlem down to Columbus Circle, straphangers subdued him themselves — by clubbing him in the head with a metal pipe.

Cops say it was around 6:30 a.m. when crazed beggar-turned-mugger Jamel Purnell, 39, went wild on a southbound C train in Harlem, leaving three bleeding holes in the torso of a 61-year-old Manhattan man, who’d tried to fight rather than give up his money, law enforcement sources said.

Purnell then tried his luck on a second victim, flashing his knife at a 28-year-old Manhattan man, sources said.


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That younger man gave Purnell $6 and fled the car — but then quickly returned with two other straphangers. One had a metal pipe and hit Purnell in the head, sources said.

Terrified subway riders, including the madman and his bleeding victim, meanwhile had to wait until the express train got to 59th Street before the madman ran out — and into the arms of arriving cops, who’d been summoned by the conductor’s 911 call.

“Someone just jumped on to our C train stabbing people,” Twitter user @djxpect wrote at 6:30 am. “Woke up to people fleeing towards me from other car train, one man covered in blood.”

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Purnell has a record dating back to 1995 for robbery, grand larceny, assault and trespass — more than 15 arrests, according to law enforcement sources.

The stab victim was taken to Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital.

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