SOHO — A homeless man who residents say has long terrorized the neighborhood — earning a nickname as the "Wild Man of SoHo" — was charged with attempted murder Monday after stabbing a street vendor with a pair of scissors, police sources said.
Richard Pearson, 49, who for years has drawn complaints from residents who say he harassed and assaulted them, attacked the 60-year-old street vendor at 11:15 a.m. in front of the Ricky’s beauty supply at 590 Broadway, at the center of SoHo's shopping district, police said.
The vendor was selling cellphone accessories at a table on the busy Broadway sidewalk, between Houston and Prince streets, when Pearson approached and got into an argument with him, police said. Pearson then grabbed a pair of scissors and stabbed the vendor, police said.
The vendor was rushed to Bellevue Hospital in serious condition, police and the FDNY said.
Pearson — who stands 6 foot 5 and weighs 260 pounds — was arrested after police followed him into a nearby subway station, sources said. He was charged with attempted murder, sources said.
Bernard Thompson, 50, who works with the victim at the cellphone accessory table, arrived for his shift shortly after the attack occurred.
“When I got here, I just saw all that red on his shirt,” Thompson said.
Before his co-worker was taken to the hospital, he told Thompson that Pearson had been harassing him before grabbing a pair of scissors and attacking him, Thompson said.
“He just snapped,” Thompson said, referring to the stabber.
Information about Pearson's attorney was not immediately available.
SoHo residents have long complained about Pearson, who has been arrested more than a dozen times on assault, drug and other charges, records show.
"The guy's a ticking time bomb," said Sean Sweeney, executive director of the SoHo Alliance. "It’s one thing beating up people and harassing them but this is terrible."
After Pearson was arrested on drug possession charges in May 2013, residents launched a campaign urging authorities to keep Pearson behind bars, fearful that he would escalate his regular harassment into violent attacks, according to fliers they posted around the neighborhood.
At the time, his court-appointed attorney, Alex Grosshtern, argued that Pearson's only crime was being poor in a rich area.
"He's a panhandler who's being targeted in a wealthy neighborhood," Grosshtern said after Pearson appeared in court in June 2013. "Wealthy residents of SoHo would prefer not to see him there."