Manhattan man arraigned in ‘brutal’ hammer attack on woman in Long Island City

hammer attack
William Blount was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on attempted murder and other crimes Monday night, while a St. Alban’s woman was charged with allegedly using the victim’s stolen credit card. (Photo by Dean Moses)

A homeless man from lower Manhattan was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court Monday night and charged with attempted murder for the brutal hammer attack on a 58-year-old woman at the Queens Plaza subway station in Long Island City last week.

William Blount, 57, whose last known address is in a shelter at the Radisson Hotel on William Street, appeared before Queens Criminal Court Judge Edwin Novillo on a six-count complaint charging him with attempted murder, assault, criminal possession of a weapon and other charges, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

According to the charges, at around 11:30 p.m. on Feb. 24, 58-year-old Nina Rothschild was heading home from her job as a researcher at the city’s Health Department when she was followed into the subway station by Blount. As alleged, the defendant began to kick the woman down the stairs, struck her head multiple times with a hammer, then grabbed the victim’s blue tote bag from her arm and fled the location.

Rothschild was rushed by EMS to NY-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, where she remains in critical condition with a fractured skull, an intracranial hemorrhage and other cuts on her head, according to the DA.

“This was a brutal, gratuitous attack,” Katz said. “As alleged, the defendant kicked the victim down a stairwell during a robbery and struck her repeatedly with a hammer and with such force that he fractured the woman’s skull and caused other serious injuries. The subways are too integral to the lifeblood of our city for riders to be terrorized when using them. The violence has to stop.”

Judge Novillo ordered Blount to return to court on March 3. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

Additionally, a St. Albans woman was arrested the day after the attack and charged with using the victim’s credit card just hours after the assault. Denise Alston, 57, of Keeseville Avenue, was taken into custody in front of a commercial strip on 21st Street for allegedly making a $19 purchase using one of Rothschild’s credit cards. Police recovered the victim’s Chase Freedom Visa card, two department store cards and her New York City identification card, allegedly from Alston’s wallet.

Alston was arraigned Monday before Queens Criminal Court Judge Anthony Battisti on a complaint charging her with criminal possession of stolen property and other crimes. Judge Battisti ordered her to return to court on March 3. If convicted, Alston faces up to four years in prison.