Brick Attack In New York

When Nicole Barrett was smashed in the skull with a brick in an unprovoked attack last Tuesday in mid-town Manhattan, a shock wave was sent throughout the city. The story of the 27-year-old, originally from Athens, Texas and now of Maspeth, brought back haunting memories of others who were at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Just last January Queens resident Kendra Webdale was pushed to her death in front of a subway train, allegedly by Andrew Goldstein, who had been bounced around the mental health system despite his own pleas for help. The tragedy led to the passing of "Kendra’s Law," which authorizes the hospitalization of patients not taking their medication, and an additional $125 million given to the mental health care system.
"Hypothetically it is difficult to compare Nicole Barrett’s attacker since the man has not yet been caught," said Dalia Schapiro, Senator Daniel Hevesi’s chief of staff. "But if he is [mentally unstable] as suspected, we have yet another example to highlight the deficiency of the system." Schapiro said that the senator was grateful toward the governor for his recent support, but feels that additional services are long overdue. "The senator is a member of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee and has been advocating and pushing for this increased support for a long time. It’s just a shame that it takes incidents such as these to get things done."
Webdale was instantly killed by the moving subway; it looks as though Barrett will make it through. She went through a series of brain surgeries at Bellevue Hospital, but for days laid unconscious as the police force went on a manhunt in search of her attacker.
Barrett has improved significantly in the past week. As of this Tuesday, she was moving her arms and legs and talking, although not in complete sentences.
Nicole’s parents, Sharon and Arlen, and brother Scott are in New York, and Mayor Rudy Giuliani has pledged to do whatever he can for the family and has reached out to other New Yorkers to do the same. "The brutal attack on Nicole Barrett has touched the lives of so many people who were both shocked by the random nature of the crime and inspired by Nicole’s brave fight to overcome her injuries. The Friends of Nikki Fund will help cover some of the costs of providing Nicole with the best care and rehabilitation available as she begins the long and difficult road to recovery," the mayor said in a statement.
The family has been more than pleased with the city’s effort to accommodate them. In a statement released last week, they expressed their "deep gratitude to the countless New Yorkers and people from around the country who have kept Nicole in their prayers and opened their hearts to our family."
As Barrett continues to recover, her family and boyfriend will spend Thanksgiving by her bedside. The holiday has a special meeting to her, since she had experienced New York for the first time eight years ago marching in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for her hometown drill team at Trinity Valley Community College.
Her drill instructor Debbie Baker remembers Barrett as a lively and energetic girl. "She ventured out into the big city not knowing what to expect and loving every minute of it. We are all pulling of her to get better."
Ronald Walker, head of the school’s Criminal Justice Department where Barrett majored, said, "She stuck out in your mind, not just because she was a good student, but because she had such a lively attitude."
The suspect is described as a black male in his 40’s, about 5’7" with a white beard, short black hair, and a medium build. The city is offering an $11,000 reward for information leading to his arrest and conviction. Anyone with information is asked to call (800)577-TIPS, in confidence.