Aug 8, 2017
Tourist and 10-year-old girl pepper-sprayed by ex-con having family picnic with beach chairs and coolers on subway train
A 10-year-old girl and a tourist were pepper-sprayed after witnessing a picnic on an East Side subway.
"It felt like burning," young Samantha Stapaj, who was sprayed on her forehead, said at her Upper East Side home Monday.
The incident happened Saturday about 12:15 p.m., at the Lexington Ave.-53rd St. station in Midtown.
Samantha, her mom, Mariana Stapaj, 44, and family friend Maria Antoniv, an artist from Toronto, were about to get off the train to transfer to the uptown No. 6 when they saw a man later identified as Dasheen Simpkins, 24.
He was in the last car, with a woman and infant, acting like the subway was Coney Island.
"They were having a picnic," the mom said. "They had two beach chairs. They had an open cooler — two big coolers on wheels."
Antoniv, 51, snapped a picture of the duo — and Simpkins snapped, sources said.
He got up, and without saying anything, pepper-sprayed Samantha and Antoniv, sources said.
"I started to scream," the mother said. "No one even cared on the subway. No one did anything."
Police were summoned and Simpkins, who stayed on the train, was arrested at the 46th St.-Broadway station in Queens.
He was charged with possession of a weapon, attempted assault and endangering the welfare of a child.
Simpkins has 24 other arrests, many for stolen property, and at least one conviction, for menacing, sources said. He is being held on $30,000 bail.
His lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.
Antoniv, who was sprayed in the eyes, was so upset she abruptly ended her vacation and headed back home to Toronto, less than an hour after arriving at the Port Authority.
Samantha is now afraid of going back on the subway.
Marian Stapaj said the best advice she can give fellow straphangers is to mind your own business.
"Don't look at anybody — just go your way," she said. "If he had a knife or a gun that would have been it. He would have killed us. No one should have to experience that. I just wanted to tell the man: What if I did that to your child?"
New York Daily News