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Bratton On Slashings Around New York City: 'We're Making Quick Arrests'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The NYPD said people shouldn't be scared after a series of slashings on the subway and streets of the city.

Subway stabbings and slashings are up 14.86 percent for the month of January, according to police. There have been 286 attacks so far compared to 249 in January 2015.

There have been two attacks this week alone.

Damon Knowles, 27, was arrested on Tuesday after allegedly slashing 71-year-old Carmen Rivera in the face while riding the D train on Monday.

Police Wednesday were also searching for another random subway slasher who used a cloth-covered machete to slice a 29-year-old woman's hand on the No. 3 train at the Eastern Parkway station in Brooklyn Tuesday night.

Police released images of the man, who allegedly told the victim after bumping into her: "I'll chop you right on this (expletive) train. The police aren't here right now."

Yet another man was slashed Wednesday night on a subway platform in East Harlem, police said. That incident happened on the southbound No. 6 Train platform beneath Lexington Avenue and 116th Street, police said.

A man walked up to the victim, a 32-year-old man, and slashed him across the face for no reason, police said.

The victim walked to Harlem Hospital Center, where he was treated for his injuries, police said. The attacker ran off and remained at large late Wednesday, 1010 WINS reported.

And back in December, a man was randomly slashed in the face at the A Train subway stop at Nostrand Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and a woman was caught on video slashing two victims on the same train line several days later.

Those incidents follow a string of similar random slashing attacks on the streets of Lower Manhattan, Midtown East, Chelsea and Whitestone, Queens.

As CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported, many subway riders said Wednesday that they were afraid. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton was asked Wednesday how the NYPD can address the perception that anybody can be a target of such a crime.

"By one, making the arrests very quickly so we understand why it happened -- in many instances there was not a motive," Bratton told WCBS 880's Rich Lamb. "Unfortunately, some of the individuals we're dealing with -- as you report and as we know -- are emotionally disturbed, they're off their meds."

"Some instances, there is a motivation in their own mind," Bratton added.

Meanwhile, crime analyst and John Jay College professor Robert McCrie said the rising number of slashings does not mean it is trending.

"Some of the individuals that commit these crimes are repeat offenders," McCrie said, "and they're the ones that need to be taken off the street, because they will have six or 10 or 12 incidents before they are apprehended."

Anthony Christopher Smith was attacked by a slasher on East 6th Street in the East Village. He said he was distracted at the time.

"I had my earbuds on. I wasn't listening. I was playing on my phone," he said.

Personal security expert David Boehm said the earbud use was Smith's devastating mistake.

"The most important thing is be aware of your surroundings," Boehm said. "You have to watch what's happening around you."

Meanwhile, Rivera said she did not make eye contact with her attacker before he slashed her face.

"I didn't see nothing in his hand," she said. "I don't stare at people."

But Boehm said making eye contact is a must in protecting oneself.

"You want to know what this person looks like," Boehm said. "You want to put a little scare into them also, that they're thinking this person is looking to be over now, and maybe this person isn't the victim of that I'm going to pick, and I'm going to move on to someone else."

Boehm advised that if you are attacked, you should fight back and scream and bring attention to yourself. He said you need all the eyes you can get to identify your attacker, so police can make a quick arrest.

Bratton said there is a very large police presence in the subways and law enforcement officials are making quick arrests.

In the recent case in Brooklyn, the victim told police the suspect bumped into her sister and there was some sort of quarrel before the attack, CBS2's Valerie Castro reported.

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