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Nearly a dozen in custody following 2 attacks hours apart in Times Square, police say

Times Square attacks spark safety concerns
Times Square attacks spark safety concerns 02:14

NEW YORK - Safety concerns are resurfacing in Times Square after separate attacks sent two victims to the hospital.

Police say a stabbing, followed by an assault, took place just blocks away from each other a few hours apart.

Police say both violent attacks were committed by large groups of people, many of them teenagers.

Overnight, detectives questioned 10 suspects they have in custody at the Midtown South precinct. Police say more than a dozen are still on the run.

Mayhem broke out in Times Square Thursday around 5:30 p.m. 

Police sources say a 17-year-old migrant shelter resident was stabbed in the lower back during a huge brawl on West 42nd Street near 8th Avenue. Officers recovered a large kitchen knife at the scene. The stabbing victim was rushed to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition. He is expected to survive.

"I saw the guy coming with the blood coming from the back and the cops trying to help him," said Belal Mohamed, who works nearby.

"I saw someone running and cops followed him. Some of the cops jumped and caught him and arrest him, other guys coming from the back, there was blood," one witness said. 

Police said seven people are in custody, and surveillance video indicates as many as 16 others who participated are still outstanding. 

Just two hours later, on 43rd Street near Broadway, another dispute turned violent. Police said a 28-year-old man was punched and kicked in the head multiple times. Three suspects, aged 14-16, were taken into custody. Police said they are still searching for two others. 

The victim is recovering from minor injuries.

"It's definitely not something I've seen in the last 20 years I've lived here, but if it's happening more often, it sounds like it's becoming an issue," one person said. 

Watch Christina Fan's report

Police seek more suspects in latest Times Square attacks 01:59

At this time, police say the two incidents do not appear to be related, but now, there are many in Midtown who say they are concerned for their safety.

In January, two NYPD officers were assaulted by a group of young men, most of them migrants, and earlier in February, a tourist was shot inside a sporting store. Police say the gunman opened fire into busy crowds as he tried to get away.

Arrests were made in both incidents.

"When events start happening in a random way in crowded areas, they have a disproportionate impact on the perception of safety, so people are now nervous," said Richard Aborn, president of the Citizen Crime Commission of New York City.

Groups like the commission say New Yorkers and tourists should still feel safe.

"The reality is tens of thousands of people go through Times Square every day, every night and go through safely and without any incident at all," Aborn said.

According to the NYPD's crime stats, major crimes in the Midtown South Precinct are down -- 529 so far this year compared to 562 the same time last year.

People say several people have been arrested in both of Thursday's incidents. Most of them are teenagers being charged with gang assault, but they say several more are still at large.

Anyone with information about either case is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). You can also submit a tip via their website or via DM on Twitter, @NYPDTips. All calls are kept confidential.  

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