NYC health dept employee brutally attacked with hammer, suspect still at large

(Video: ABC7)

After a city employee was bludgeoned by a hammer during a New York City subway robbery, Mayor Eric Adams (D) continues to take heat for his failing leadership.

Dr. Nina Rothschild was on her way home from work at the NYC Department of Health Thursday night when she was assaulted while descending the stairs into the Queens Plaza subway station.

The assailant, believed to be a homeless man, can be seen on video kicking the 57-year-old woman before drawing a hammer and repeatedly striking her in the head.

The suspect appeared to strike Rothschild as many as 13 times before taking her bag and ascending the stairs leaving her on the ground around 11:20pm. Officers found her there shortly after the attack and she was transported to nearby New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Cornell in critical condition suffering from a fractured skull and lacerations to the head.

Gerson Rothschild, brother to Nina and a scientist at Columbia University, told ABC 7 that she is recovering from surgery and remembers the attack. Of the assailant coming up behind her he said, “She apparently remembers all of that and she kept screaming, ‘stop, stop,’ but the person either wouldn’t stop, I don’t remember exactly what she said,” but ultimately he took her bag, cellphone, documents and jewelry.

At this time, police have been unable to identify the assailant and are offering a $3,500 reward for anyone who can provide information to help with the investigation.

Gerson Rothschild said that he is confident an arrest will be made and that he is hopeful about the mayor’s effort to address crime,

“I do hope that the homeless outreach program will yield some results of getting the people who need it the most help that they can get, potentially reduce crime,” he said.

Despite these hopes, Hizzoner’s “Subway Safety Plan” has had an abysmal first week. Rolled out February 18, the plan was met with the reality of a violent weekend where five of six stabbings took place within the first 24 hours following the announcement.

Adams said of the assault: “A woman taking the train should not be struck in the head with a hammer, repeatedly. And for us to believe that dangerous people like that, in some corners, that we need to say because they are in pain, they should inflict pain. I don’t subscribe to that. We need to catch him. He needs to be incarcerated.”

The mayor seemed to take a harsher tone than on previous occasions before taking a step back. “And whomever is causing violence on our streets and in our subways,” he said, the New York Post reported, “while we give them the emotional help they need, we need to get them off the streets.”

Adams added that the attack was “particularly horrific” because it was on a city worker. What he did not mention is that the Queens Plaza station is already considered a high priority area with added police support and that there has already been a 35 percent increase in subway attacks for 2022 compared to the same period last year, the Daily Mail reported.

Fabien Levy, a spokesman for the mayor, tried to cover for the lackluster beginning to the mayor’s safety plan saying, “We should not conflate such isolated acts of violence on the subway with broad statements about the behavioral and mental health challenges the city is confronting, or the issue of aiding those experiencing [homelessness] that the mayor’s plan directly addresses.”


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