A man suspected of randomly punching four women at a Brooklyn subway station over the holiday season was busted in connection with the terrifying nighttime attacks last week — but was released from custody only days later, The Post has learned.
The incidents happened between Nov. 17 and Dec. 28, as the women, aged 24 to 32, walked on stairs or ramps of the Morgan Avenue L train stop in East Williamsburg, according to police, who never publicized the disturbing spate of assaults.
- On Nov. 17 at 8 p.m., a 24-year-old woman was approached from behind on the stairs by a stranger who punched her “multiple times” in the face and then fled. The stunned victim suffered cuts to her forehead and nose.
- On Dec. 11 at 9:15 p.m., an assailant set upon a 24-year-old victim “while going the stairs,” punched her from behind on the left side of the face, “causing pain, redness, and swelling.”
- The attacker struck again the day after Christmas at 8:50 p.m., sucker-punching a 26-year-old woman in the left eye as she walked down the station stairs.
- Two days later, at 4:55 p.m., a 32-year-old victim told police she stepped off the train and was walking toward the token booth when a stranger “suddenly” socked her in the face, “causing a laceration, bruising and swelling.” The victim was taken to Woodhull Hospital.
On Wednesday police canvassed the area with the victim of the Dec. 26 assault, and she identified Benny Watts, 50, to cops, who arrested him, a law enforcement source said.
Watts’ last known address was a housing project in the East Village, police said. Authorities would not say if Watts had prior arrests or mental health problems, nor could they provide a motive.
“This is a guy who randomly punches women in a subway station. Make your own conclusion,” a law enforcement source told The Post.
None of the victims was robbed. Cops would not comment when asked if the attacks were motivated by gender or race.
Watts was initially charged with four counts of third-degree assault, police said. But the other three victims could not ID him as their alleged attacker, a law enforcement source told The Post. So Watts was charged only in connection with the Dec. 26 incident — a single misdemeanor.
“The investigation is continuing,” said Brooklyn District Attorney spokesman Oren Yaniv.
By Friday, Watts was already back on the street, after a judge released him following a virtual arraignment.
“He (Watts) was charged with assault in the third degree, which is not eligible for bail under the law,” said Yaniv.
No weapon was used in the Dec. 26 incident and the victim declined medical attention, Yaniv said.
Authorities could not immediately say if Watts was let go on his own recognizance or supervised release, or whether any other conditions were imposed.
The NYPD would not say if they believed the spree was the latest incarnation of the twisted “knockout game,” where the goal is to slug an unsuspecting stranger into unconsciousness.
A cement company sits next to the entrance to the subway station at Morgan Avenue and Harrison Place in the mostly industrial neighborhood, which is a magnet for Brooklyn hipsters.
On Thursday, two cops were spotted patrolling the Morgan Avenue station before stepping onto an L train.
Asked if they were familiar with the attacks, the officers answered: “That’s why we’re here.”
*story by The New York Post