NYC stabbing spree suspect: I’m victim of a setup
Monday, February 14, 2011
NEW YORK (AP) — A man accused of going on a 28-hour stabbing rampage through the city shouted that he was the victim of a “setup” as he was led from a police station Sunday.
Maksim Gelman was arraigned in Brooklyn Criminal Court on charges that he hacked three people to death, then stalked the city for more than a day, attacking innocent strangers, hijacking vehicles and killing a pedestrian with a car. He did not speak as he stood shackled at the ankles and arms while dressed in a white jumpsuit issued to him after his bloody clothing was seized as evidence. He was ringed by a half-dozen guards.
Public defender Michael Baum, who represented Gelman at the arraignment, said he could not shed any light on Gelman’s mental state during the time police say he was committing the crimes, but he described his client Sunday evening as “calm” and “rational.”
“He’s very concerned about the nature of the charges,” Baum said. “There are many things he wants to discuss about what happened.”
A small throng of Brooklyn residents taunted Gelman from the sidewalk as he was escorted out of a police precinct for his trip to court.
The 23-year-old cursed and yelled back that it “was a setup” as he was led to a vehicle.
Gelman was arraigned on charges of second-degree murder, robbery and assault in the Brooklyn attacks. He was being held without bail. He likely will face charges in Manhattan for an attack on a subway train passenger before he was arrested Saturday morning.
Police said Gelman’s vicious spree ended after he was captured in dramatic fashion on the subway train beneath Times Square. After dodging officers by dashing across the tracks, Gelman pounded on the door of the compartment of a moving train and demanded that the driver let him in, authorities said.
Then, he turned and attacked a passenger, stabbing him in the head before two police officers who had been riding with the driver sprang to his aid, they said. When the fracas ended, Gelman was in handcuffs and the officers were in possession of his bloody 8-inch kitchen knife, police said.
The final stabbing victim, Joseph Lozito, of Philadelphia, recounted the attack from his hospital bed Sunday for newspaper reporters.
“He’s 2 or 3 feet away from me, and he pulls this knife out, looks me in the eye and says, ’You’re gonna die,’ Lozito told the New York Post.
Lozito, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs more than 260 pounds, said he decided to go down fighting. He told the Daily News he tackled Gelman and was trying to grab his wrist as he sliced at his arm and face.
“”You better hope that I die because I’m going to come kill you,” Lozito said he told the slasher.
Police said the capture ended a violent spree that began just after 5 a.m. Friday, when police say Gelman snapped during an argument over the use of his mother’s Lexus sedan. His stepfather, Aleksandr Kuznetsov, intervened and was stabbed to death at their apartment in Brooklyn, police said. Police found the 54-year-old’s body in his home. Gelman’s mother was uninjured.
Later that morning, Gelman turned up at the home of a 20-year-old acquaintance, Yelena Bulchenko, and stabbed to death her mother, 56-year-old Anna Bulchenko, police said. When Yelena Bulchenko arrived home at about 4 p.m., she found her mother dead in a pool of blood and called 911. But Gelman was waiting for her there, chased her outside and stabbed her 11 times, authorities said.
Police initially identified Yelena Bulchenko as Gelman’s ex-girlfriend, but the nature of their relationship was unclear. Some friends said that if the two ever dated, they were unaware of it.
Gelman sped away in his mom’s car to another part of Brooklyn, where he rear-ended a Pontiac, then stabbed the driver when he confronted Gelman about the crash, police said. The driver was slashed three times in the chest but survived and was stable at a hospital.
Gelman left the man bleeding on the street and drove off in his Pontiac but smacked into 62-year-old pedestrian Stephen Tanenbaum, who died from his injuries, police said. He later abandoned the car, engine running, in a private driveway not far from a freight railroad where he once was caught spray-painting graffiti, police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.
Police hunted him, but he disappeared until just before 1 a.m. Saturday, when police say he confronted and stabbed a livery cab driver in Brooklyn, north of where the other attacks occurred. Shortly afterward, he approached a couple in a Nissan, stabbing the man multiple times in the hand before hijacking the car, police said. Both men survived.
Just after 8 a.m. Saturday, passengers on a southbound No. 1 train in upper Manhattan noticed that a man on the train matched photos of Gelman they had seen in newspapers.
One passenger on the train got off at West 96th Street, approached officers on the platform and told them that a man fitting Gelman’s description knocked a newspaper out of her hand, saying, “Do you believe what they’re writing about me?” according to police.
Gelman jumped off the train at the West 34th Street station, crossed the tracks and hopped on a northbound No. 3 train, where he sliced a passenger, the police commissioner said.
Officers were in the driver’s compartment of the train looking for him on the tracks when he made his way up to the driver’s door and pounded on it, “claiming that he was the police,“ Kelly said.
One of the officers threw open the door and wrestled Gelman to the ground, knocking the knife from his hand, Kelly said.
The Ukraine-born Gelman and his mother became naturalized U.S. citizens about five years ago, Kelly said. He lived with his family in a predominantly Eastern European section of Brooklyn. He was known to be a troublemaker and has a criminal history, but the arrests were mostly non-violent, for criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal mischief or graffiti, though some of his arrest records were sealed.
Gelman made some incoherent statements to police after his arrest, including “she had to die,” but it’s unclear to whom he was referring, Kelly said.
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