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Chinatown Murders: the hidden population of New York

Memorial in Chinatown left for one of the men killed

On October fifth at around two in the morning, Randy Rodriguez Santos went on a murderous rampage, killing four men and putting a fifth in the hospital, barely alive. His murder weapon was a three-foot, 15-pound metal bar. The specific murder weapon left many wondering how this killing spree could have gone on without any intervention? The answer might have to do with the victims of his attacks. Santos’ targets were all homeless people, living on the streets of Chinatown. 

There are over 63,000 homeless people in New York according to The Bowery Mission. Almost 1 out of every 171 New Yorkers is homeless, but despite this massive issue, New Yorkers tend to ignore the homeless population around them. 

Santos, who is now in police custody has refused to answer questions about the reasoning for the attack, but the motive “appears to be, right now, just random attacks,” said Michael Baldassano, the chief of Manhattan South Detectives. 

In light of this tragedy, the city has pledged to step up its homeless outreach. Mental health outreach teams are now being dispatched around the city, and work is being done to increase the homeless outreach teams. “We are sending experts to the neighborhood to provide support during this difficult time, and will continue to assess how to prevent tragedies like this from happening in the future,” says Bill de Blasio in the aftermath of this tragedy. Additional substance use resources and rehabilitation programs are also being put into place. 

Although homeless people in New York are often neglected, they can nonetheless become a fixture of their communities. One of the men killed, Chuen Kok (also spelled Kwok), was described as “gentle and polite” by his friends. Homeless people are still people, deserving of care and impacting those around them. Flowers and candles have been left in the locations where the victims were found and a memorial service was held following the murders

Audrey Taplitz is currently a sophomore at The Packer Collegiate Institute and a reporter for the Packer Prism this year. She is looking forward to starting journalism due to her love of writing and interest in staying updated in her community. In addition to working on the Packer Prism, she enjoys playing sports and spending time with her friends. Audrey can be reached at

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