Crime and Safety

Weeping NYC grandpa describes being shoved onto subway tracks, begs Eric Adams to curb crime

The 62-year-old grandpa who was slugged and shoved onto Bronx subway tracks as part of a possible “knockout game” wept Tuesday while describing his ordeal to The Post — and begged Mayor Eric Adams to do more to combat transit crime.

“Everybody’s talking the talk, but nobody’s walking the walk, and it’s getting more and more dangerous for innocent people trying to get to and from where they have to go,” said Ronald Baptiste, an electrician and married grandfather.

“I paid $2.75 to the MTA so a guy could bash me in the head and throw me in the middle of the tracks,” he said.

“I want to be able to walk into the subway system and feel safe.

“You could put a million cops on the subway, but if you don’t clear out the homeless and criminals from the subway, we will never have a safe system. No matter how many homeless shelters you have to build, get them off the subway.

“It’s so embarrassing that people recognize that New York is a crime city,” Baptiste said.

Police said the random attack on the man may have been part of the disturbing “knockout game” challenge, a sick social-media contest where people are encouraged to slug strangers.

Ronald Baptiste
Ronald Baptiste was shoved onto Bronx subway tracks as part of a possible “knockout game.”
Tomas E. Gaston
Deshaun Smith
Deshaun Smith claimed to authorities that he punched Baptiste in self-defense.
Wayne Carrington

Baptiste was on his way to his job in Manhattan on Sunday when police say 21-year-old Deshaun Smith came up behind him and suddenly slugged him in the back of the head.

Deshaun then allegedly shoved Baptiste onto the tracks and ran off. Cops caught up with him and charged him with assault Monday.

He’s now being held at Rikers Island on $20,000 cash bail, court officials said.

The assault at the 149th Street 4-train station is just one in a recent rash of transit attacks.

Ronald Baptiste
“I paid $2.75 to the MTA so a guy could bash me in the head and throw me in the middle of the tracks,” Baptiste said.
Tomas E. Gaston

“Look at how many incidents we’ve had on the trains,” Baptiste said.

“My message to the mayor is to stop talking,” he said. “Actions speak louder than words. He has the resources to put in place to fix the subway system, so let’s do it and make citizens feel safe once again to use the subway.

“Mr. Mayor, what are you doing? You’re talking to the media, you’re talking the talk, but we’re not seeing any improvement. People don’t feel safe in New York.”

Smith claimed to authorities that he punched Baptiste in self-defense, according to court papers — an assertion that his victim scoffed at, as did prosecutors.

“What he did is attempted murder,” Baptiste said. “I could have hit my head and gone into concussion. I could have ended up a veggie. I could have been hit by a train.

“He said he was provoked? That’s not true,” he said. “That’s crazy. He didn’t yell or say anything. I was alone, just walking.”

bronx subway
Baptiste was on his way to his job in Manhattan when Smith allegedly came up behind him and slugged him in the back of the head.
Tomas E. Gaston

He said the traumatizing attack has also affected his wife.

“My wife went to work this morning,” Baptiste said as he wept. “When she got to 149th Street, she started crying on the train. She told me her heart broke when she got to the [Grand] Concourse. How would you expect me to feel?”

Transit violence is up in the city, with nine subway-related homicides so far this year.

Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul have responded to the uptick in subway violence by announcing a plan that includes new 25-bed units at two local psychiatric facilities for mentally ill homeless individuals. 

The plan also calls for cops and other first responders to receive training on how to best transport the mentally ill from subways to psychiatric care.

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