New York mayor’s own health expert seriously injured in subway attack amid growing fears of rise in crime

‘She kept screaming, ‘stop, stop’ but the person ... wouldn’t stop’

Bevan Hurley
Saturday 26 February 2022 18:09
NYC health expert bashed over head in brutal subway attack

A New York City public health scientist is in a critical condition in hospital after she was brutally hit over the head with a hammer in a robbery at a subway station in Queens.

Dr Nina Rothschild, 58, was kicked and struck 13 times with the weapon at the Queens Plaza station on Thursday night, leaving her with a fractured skull.

Dr Nina Rothschild, a scientist with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, was brutally attacked on the city’s subway

The attack happened amid a spike in violent attacks on the New York City subway, and days after Mayor Eric Adams promised to crack down on crime on the public transport network.

Disturbing surveillance footage released by the NYPD shows the balaclava-clad suspect raining blows to her head before she falls to the ground. The man then makes off with her purse.

Her brother Gerson Rothschild told ABC7 he had spoken to his sister by phone from her hospital bed, and she said she had been on her way home from work when she was attacked from behind.

The NYPD released this image of the suspect who bashed academic Nina Rothschild before stealing her purse

“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 grabbed the bag with the cellphone and the personal papers and apparently some jewelry and ran off with it.”

The attack occurred at the Queens Plaza station in Long Island City at 11.22pm on Thursday night.

In the surveillance footage, Dr Rothschild can be seen descending steps with a cane when the attacker approaches her from behind.

She can be seen remaining on her feet as the man hits repeatedly with a hammer, before eventually falling at the bottom of the stairs.

Officers found her lying in a pool of blood minutes later.

Unsupported twitter embed

Dr Rothschild has had a celebrated 20-year career with the New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Her Linkedin profile describes has as spearheading an HIV reduction plan in the city.

In a statement, New York health commissioner Dave Chokshi described the attack as “horrific”.

“Nina has worked tirelessly in service to her fellow New Yorkers and she is truly a public health hero,” Dr Chokshi said.

The attack came six days after Mayor Adams announced his plans to tackle both crime and homelessness in subways.

The suspect in the attack on Nina Rothschild is seen leaving the Queen’s Plaza station

The strategy, which comes amid an alarming increase in violent attacks on the subway, involves sending more police, mental health clinicians and social service outreach workers into the network.

Last month Michelle Go was was pushed in front of a train and killed at Times Square station.

After Mr Adams and Gov Kathy Hochul announced the new safety plan last Friday, six people were stabbed or slashed in subway stations or trains over the President’s Day holiday weekend, according to the New York Police Department.

Two female teenagers were arrested in one of those attacks, accused of slashing a 74-year-old man in the face, pushing him to the ground and taking his cell phone on Saturday afternoon after he argued with them while they smoked on a train.

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