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Prospect Park Slashing Suspect Charged In Crown Heights Hate Crime Stabbing

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A Manhattan man was charged Thursday in connection with three recent stabbings and slashings – including one that has been deemed a hate crime.

The mother of the Hasidic man who police said was attacked in a hate crime was demanding more answers from police late Thursday.

As CBS2's Brian Conybeare reported, the suspect is a 26-year-old homeless man who allegedly attacked two male joggers in Prospect Park Wednesday night. Late Thursday at the 70th Precinct police station, investigators said he also confessed to stabbing the Hasidic Jewish man in the back in Crown Heights last month.

Suspect Keny Rochelin lives in a homeless shelter on West 83rd Street on the Upper West Side. He was charged with robbery, assault and criminal possession of a weapon, police said.

Around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, police said a 30-year-old jogger was slashed in his hand while fighting off a suspect who was trying to rob him on the path near the East Drive.

Minutes later at Parkside and Ocean avenues, police said the same suspect stabbed a 43-year-old man in the abdomen and took the victim's wallet.

The suspect was immediately taken into custody, 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck reported.

Both victims were being treated at Kings County Hospital Center and were expected to recover.

While they were questioning him in those attacks, detectives thought Rochelin looked a lot like the suspect who was seen on surveillance cameras after the Feb. 10 stabbing of Yehuda Leib Brikman, 25, on Empire Boulevard in Crown Heights.

The terrifying random crime had the Orthodox Jewish community on edge.

"Nothing was said. It was out of the blue, just like the first one was last night in the park," said NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce. "He went up and stabbed an individual in the back. That individual was wearing religious garb. He was a Hasidic male. So we're charging it as a hate crime right now."

In the attack on Brikman, Rochelin is facing attempted murder as a hate crime and other charges. Late Thursday, Brikman's mother said her son was only attacked because of his religion.

"It was a hate crime he's a Jew and that's why!" said Rivkah Brikman.

She also had tough questions for police during a packed community meeting at the Jewish Children's Museum on Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights.

"How am I going to be sure that it's him?" she said. "I need a follow up. I'm sorry."

"I need to make sure that the person that they got that stabbed Leibee is truly the one that stabbed the other two people," Rivkah Brikman continued.

NYPD Chief Steven Powers responded, "The bottom line is we firmly believe we got the right guy."

Detectives told CBS2 Rochelin's sister lives in Crown Heights and he would often go there to visit her.

Police late Thursday were trying to determine whether Rochelin was responsible for another stabbing of a Hasidic man back in November.

The arrest came on the same day as an unrelated attack left a woman injured in Prospect Park South, Brooklyn. In that incident, a suspect came up behind a 53-year-old victim and slashed her in the neck just before 10 a.m. on Beverley Road.

The victim was rushed to Maimonides Medical Center, where her condition was listed in stable condition.

Officials recovered a knife at the scene and an American flag bandana. The suspect is described as a 6-foot-tall black man, wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt and dark sweat pants.

The attacks had parkgoers on edge.

"I'm very concerned because I've been in the park for about 33 years," one woman said. "We're just thinking about our security, we're coming in groups because we are afraid."

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