A homeless man was taken into custody after four other sleeping homeless men were beaten to death with a metal pipe overnight in Chinatown, authorities said.
NYPD officers responding to a 911 call around 1:50 a.m. on Saturday found an unconscious man lying in the street with "severe head trauma" near 2 Bowery, Assistant Chief Stephen Hughes, the commanding officer of Patrol Borough Manhattan South, said at a news conference Saturday morning.
A second man with head trauma approached officers at the scene, Hughes said. Witnesses told the officers a man in a black jacket and black pants struck the unconscious victim in the head with a metal pipe several times before fleeing the scene.
The conscious man was taken to a nearby hospital in critical condition, according to Hughes. The unconscious man was pronounced dead at the scene.
Officers canvassing the area found a 24-year-old man carrying a metal pipe near Mulberry Street and Canal Street soon after, Hughes said.
The 24-year-old was taken into custody "with no further incident," according to Hughes. Three law enforcement sources identified him as Randy Santos, and told NBC 4 New York he is expected to face murder and attempted murder charges.
Santos is also believed to be homeless, according to police.
Police officials told News 4 they believe Santos has a number of past arrests for assault, including one in May for an alleged assault at a Brooklyn homeless shelter.
Police found three other victims on East Broadway not long after. All of the men had severe head trauma and were pronounced dead at the scene, Hughes said.
Deputy Chief Michael Baldassano, the commanding officer of Manhattan South, said police believe all of the victims were sleeping when they were attacked.
The attacks appear to have been random, Baldassano said, but an investigation is ongoing.
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Twitter said the city was "keeping the victims and their loved ones in our hearts today."
"We're stunned and horrified by this senseless act of violence against the most vulnerable members of our community," he said. "It flies in the face of the values of our city."
Anyone with information about the attacks is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS.