Randy Santos, the man accused of beating to death four homeless men in Chinatown, has pleaded not guilty. In court Monday, his lawyer signaled that an insanity defense is likely.
Five men were viciously attacked with a metal pipe on Oct. 5 in the area in and around Confucius Plaza. Four of them died. Santos, 24, faces four counts of first degree murder, one count of first degree attempted murder, one count of second degree attempted murder and one count of first degree assault. Prosecutors also accuse Santos in an attack in Chelsea that occurred eight days before the Chinatown rampage.
In a statement, New York City District Attorney Cy Vance said:
There is perhaps no population more vulnerable to violence than the growing number of unsheltered New Yorkers who lack a safe place to sleep. As my office works to secure justice for Cheun Kok, Anthony Mason, Nazario Abdelardo Vazquez Villegas, and a tragically still-unidentified neighbor, our city can further honor their memories by delivering secure housing to all New Yorkers. I offer my heartfelt condolences to the victims’ loved ones as our community begins to heal.
In a press release, the DA laid out what prosecutors believe happened on Oct. 5 at approximately 1:30 a.m.:
In the first attack, Santos observed Anthony Mason sleeping on the sidewalk outside of 17 East Broadway. The defendant left and returned a short time later carrying a metal bar and struck Mr. Mason in the head approximately seven times, causing his death. Immediately following the attack on Mr. Mason, Santos crossed the street to 2 East Broadway, where he approached three men sleeping next to each other on the sidewalk. Santos struck the sleeping group multiple times with the same metal bar, walked away, and returned a few minutes later to strike the group three more times, causing the deaths of Nazario Abdelardo Vazquez Villegas and an unidentified victim, and seriously injuring another victim.
After the attack at 2 East Broadway, the defendant abandoned his weapon and crossed the Bowery, where he observed Cheun Kok sleeping against a building near Doyers Street. Santos retraced his steps to retrieve the metal bar, then he approached Mr. Kok and struck him in the head three times. Eyewitnesses to the attack called 911, and Santos fled down Doyers Street carrying the weapon over his shoulder. Police officers quickly responded to the scene at 2 Bowery and found Mr. Kok had succumbed to his injuries.
While securing the scene, police officers encountered the surviving victim of the 2 East Broadway attack as he stumbled toward the ambulance on-site. The victim was immediately rushed to a local hospital with serious physical injuries. Simultaneously, officers of the 5th Precinct apprehended the defendant after observing him with the metal bar in the vicinity of Mulberry and Canal Streets.
Following his arrest, Santos was identified as the perpetrator of a similar attack on September 27, 2019. In that incident, Santos approached an individual sleeping on a bench near the waterfront at Chelsea Piers and repeatedly struck him in the head and neck. The defendant then attempted to throw the victim over a railing into the river.
As the Daily News reported, Santos’ lawyer, Arnold Levine, told a Manhattan Supreme Court judge that he intends to use a psychiatric defense. Santos is being held at Bellevue Hospital.