UPPER EAST SIDE — An emotionally disturbed straphanger stabbed one woman and slugged another who tried to restrain her before being subdued by a group of good Samaritans at the 59th Street-Lexington Avenue station Monday morning, police and witnesses said.
The attacker, who sources described as a 31-year-old homeless woman, was aboard an uptown 6 train shortly before 10 a.m. when she flew into a rage and lunged at a straphanger with a 3- to 4-inch steak knife as the train pulled up to the platform of the Lexington Ave.-59th Street Station, sources and witnesses said.
The victim, a 39-year-old woman, fled onto the platform but was pursued by the attacker, who stabbed her in the stomach and shoulder before a group of fellow straphangers intervened, police and witnesses said.
''People ran upstairs yelling, 'Ah, ah, someone's got a knife stabbing people!' Everyone was panicking and scared," said Charles Williams, 45, a street cleaner who was outside the station when he heard people screaming and ran downstairs and helped restrain the attacker.
''I'm not a hero. This is my town. This is my city. I love New York. It could've been any one of my family members. I'm tired of senseless killings,'' said Williams, whose sister was shot and killed in 1989.
While Williams and other straphangers subdued the attacker, the victim stumbled to the upstairs Bloomingdale's where employees gave her first aid, a company spokeswoman confirmed. Several Bloomingdale's security guards raced downstairs to help, witnesses said.
"I told her to, 'Calm down. We're gonna handcuff you and get you the help you need,'" said a 45-year-old Bloomingdale's employee who asked that his name not be used. "She said, 'Yeah, I got a lot of problems, troubles. I need help.'''
The attacker was taken to Bellevue Hospital for a psychological evaluation, an NYPD spokesman said.
Sources said the suspect, who was clad in black, became angry because she thought the victim was looking at her.
Another 19-year-old woman, whose identity was not immediately released, was also slugged in the fray, sources said.
Both the stabbing victim and the woman who was punched were taken to Cornell Hospital, an NYPD spokesman said.