MANHATTAN — Two thieves swiped a cellphone from the hands of Mayor Bill de Blasio's communications director as the doors closed on his subway in the Fulton Street station, sources said.
The thieves reached through the closing doors of the 4 train to rip the phone from Mahen Gunaratna, 30, a onetime press aide for Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign, about 5:20 p.m. Tuesday, sources said.
Gunaratna tried to chase after the pair, but they fled into a nearby park and escaped, sources said. They hadn't been arrested as of Wednesday afternoon.
Investigators are canvasing for video of the suspects, sources said.
It wasn't immediately clear if the phone was Gunaratna's personal device or city property.
The aide has a long history of public service that stretches back to when he volunteered for Barack Obama's presidential campaign in 2010 in Ohio, according to his LinkedIn profile.
He went on to work for Sen. Chuck Schumer in 2008, Rep. Kendrick Meek in 2009, Rep. Frederica Wilson in 2011 and Obama again in 2011, according to his profile.
Gunaratna first joined de Blasio's team in 2013 as a researcher and stayed on until 2016, when he left to campaign for Clinton in Florida and Connecticut, his profile shows.
He returned to the de Blasio administration in January 2017 after Clinton lost the presidential election to Donald Trump, his profile shows.
The mayor's press office didn't immediately return a request for comment.
Subway crime has remained steady, with the number of incidents so far this year — 1,375 — nearly matching the same period in 2016, when 1,347 incidents were recorded, NYPD data shows.