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Stabbing Suspect Was Resting on Wards Island When Arrested, Sources Say

By  Murray Weiss Trevor Kapp and Paul DeBenedetto | July 18, 2012 1:27pm | Updated on July 19, 2012 2:18pm

NEW YORK CITY — The homeless man who allegedly stabbed a 25-year-old nail salon worker on the Upper East Side was resting in a Wards Island shelter when police arrested him Tuesday night, sources said.

Two eagle-eyed cops noticed Curtis Forteau, 29, en route to the shelter and recognized him from video and descriptions, sources told DNAinfo.com New York. They tipped off detectives, who found Forteau laying on a cot and wearing the same clothes seen in surveillance videos, sources added.

Forteau, who allegedly stabbed a 25-year-old Queens woman in broad daylight Tuesday morning, was quickly taken into custody.

Forteau shouted his innocence as he was escorted from the 19th Precinct stationhouse to New York County Supreme Court, according to reports.

“I never stabbed anyone!” Forteau cried, according to the New York Daily News. “I never attacked anyone first. I never hurt anyone. Never, ever!”

He was arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court and charged with attempted murder, assault and two counts of attempted robbery, according to the criminal complaint.

Forteau has a history of violence. In 2009, he was charged with assault after he doused two people with pepper spray, one of whom suffered minor injuries, sources said. He was locked up for a year and a half after the incident and then participated in a residential mental health treatment program for another year.

In January, Forteau completed the treatment program, and the assault charge against him was dropped, sources said. He instead pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to three years supervision by the New York City Department of Probation.

Forteau's mom, Miriam, expressed sympathy for Tirado. She hadn't heard about the alleged attack until reporters knocked on her door.

"We are a close family, but he's schizophrenic," said the 52-year-old mom, adding that she hadn't seen her son in weeks. "He was not a troublesome kid. He was a good kid. Along the line, something happened."

Cops said the younger Forteau marked Tirado, a worker at the nearby European Wax Center, and her friend as they walked on East 86th Street and Second Avenue about 10:30 a.m. He was trying to steal Tirado's black leather purse, police said.

Tirado, an Astoria resident, held on tight to her bag, and Forteau stabbed her in the stomach with an 8-inch kitchen knife, before running away and ditching the weapon, cops said.

Sources said a witness told cops where Forteau allegedly dumped the knife, and the weapon has been recovered.

Tirado was taken to New York-Presbyterian Hospital in stable condition, where she underwent exploratory surgery to determine the extent of her internal injuries, according to the criminal complaint. Officials and co-workers say she is recovering from non-life-threatening injuries. 

The young woman's mother, Alicia Arroyo, said her daughter was a survivor, citing one of the young woman's tattoos as proof.

"I was born to survive," Arroyo said of her daughter's tattoo, according to the News.

Sources said Forteau has denied any knowledge of the crime, and the investigation is ongoing.