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Attorney appointed for suspect in deadly New York stabbing spree

By the CNN Wire Staff
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4 killed in 28-hour NYC rampage
  • NEW: A victim recalls his attack: "I'm not thinking much of anything besides survive"
  • Maksim Gelman was appointed a defense attorney during a court hearing Monday
  • He is accused of killing four people -- stabbing three and running over another
  • The dead include his stepfather, his former girlfriend and her mother

New York (CNN) -- On the same day that a defense attorney was assigned to Maksim Gelman, accused of killing four during a New York City stabbing and carjacking spree, one of his surviving victims recalled the terror he felt during the alleged rampage.

During a court hearing Monday, Gelman was appointed a defense attorney -- public defender Ed Friedman. Sunday night, he was arraigned in Brooklyn Criminal Court on four counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, one count of assault, two counts of robbery and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon, Brooklyn district attorney's office spokesman Jonah Bruno said.

On Monday, Joe Lozito told HLN's Vinne Politan that he felt "every kind of emotion -- scared to death, you're angry" -- when Gelman allegedly lunged at him with a knife Sunday morning about a Manhattan subway train.

Lozito is out of the hospital, where he earlier had been in stable condition being treated for cuts to his head and neck. The Philadelphia resident, who works in New York, said he anticipated confronting Gelman once again in court.

"I have the scars on my head and I have the memories I probably won't be able to rid myself of, and I want this guy to go away for a long time," Lozito said.

As he was led away from Brooklyn's 61st precinct to an awaiting police cruiser Sunday, Gelman was deluged with questions from gathered media and hostile shouts from the crowd. After uttering an expletive, he said, "This was a set-up, man."

Authorities alleged Saturday that Gelman fatally stabbed three people, hit and killed a man with a car, slashed at least five other people and carjacked two vehicles before he was wrestled to the ground early Saturday after trying to break into the cab of a subway train.

Friedman said Gelman's case will head to a grand jury Friday.

Gelman, 23, who is unemployed and known to authorities mostly as a graffiti artist, was arrested about 9 a.m. Saturday, about 28 hours after he is alleged to have begun the spree spanning three New York boroughs, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Saturday.

"It's so horrendous and bizarre," Kelly told reporters Saturday. "We have no reason that we can give you as to why he did this."

Police believe Gelman got into a dispute with his mother at her Brooklyn home about 5 a.m. Friday after she refused to let him take her 2004 Lexus. The suspect's stepfather, Aleksandr Kuznetsov, intervened and was stabbed 11 times, they said. Kuznetsov, 54, died, while Gelman's mother -- who survived unscathed -- alerted authorities.

Investigators believe Gelman then took the Lexus, drove about a mile away to the home of his ex-girlfriend and stabbed her mother, 56-year-old Anna Bulchenko, 11 times, at about 10:30 a.m. Gelman's former girlfriend found her mother dead on the floor when she returned home at about 4:15 p.m., police said. She called police.

But in the short period before they arrived, authorities believe Gelman -- who presumably was still in the apartment -- allegedly attacked the former girlfriend, Yelena Bulchenko, 20, with a knife. He chased her into the street and killed her, also slashing the jacket sleeve of a passerby trying to stop him, authorities said.

He then left the scene in the Lexus and rear-ended another car, a Pontiac Bonneville, allegedly stabbing its 60-year-old driver three times in the shoulder and neck in a confrontation and then leaving the scene in that car, police said. Authorities said they later found four kitchen knives in the Lexus.

About 4:25 p.m., the car allegedly struck a pedestrian about two miles away, Kelly said. Steve Tannenbaum, 60, died of his injuries.

Police believe the suspect eventually abandoned the Pontiac, which was later found near a Brooklyn railroad line he was known to frequent as a graffiti artist. Shortly before 1 a.m. Saturday, Gelman allegedly got into a cab in Brooklyn and stabbed the driver. As of Saturday, that driver was in stable condition.

Kelly said Gelman then got out of the car and confronted a couple, allegedly stabbing a man in the hands and taking his car keys. That man was treated and released at a hospital, Kelly said. The car, a Nissan, was later found in Queens.

Shelton Pottinger told reporters he was that victim. "He looked crazy," he said of the man who stabbed him. "He looked like a crazy guy."

He said the man pulled a knife and a gun and told him to get out of the car or he would kill him.

"I was shocked," he said. "I didn't know what to do." But he said he decided to fight, and moved over into the passenger seat. "I was trying to kick him to get him out."

But he said the man forced his way in and hit the gas. Pottinger said he was holding on to the man's hands as he tried to stab him.

Police received a tip Saturday morning that the suspect might have been riding a southbound subway train in Manhattan. A woman approached police at a subway stop and said Gelman knocked a newspaper featuring his picture from her hands and said to her, "Do you believe what they're writing about me?" before crossing the tracks and jumping onto a train.

The man stabbed a seated passenger -- 40-year-old Lozito, who said he didn't know the suspect or about the alleged stabbing spree until he landed in the hospital -- during his time onboard. Gelman allegedly told Lozito, "You're going to die" before attacking him with the knife from above.

"At that moment, I'm not thinking much of anything besides survive," recalled Lozito, who said he tried to tackle the suspect after he was slashed in the head.

Eventually, the man worked his way to the front cab of the train. The commissioner said the suspect pounded on the cab's door, yelling "Police" -- apparently trying to get in by claiming he was a police officer. He did not appear to know two transit police officers, later identified as Terrance Howell and Tamara Taylor, were inside the cab with the train's operator.

Soon after, the officers -- with aid from off-duty New York police Detective Marcelo Razzo and an unnamed civilian nearby -- wrestled Gelman to the ground, police said. No one was hurt in that scuffle, during which a knife fell to the ground.

Police also found Gelman had another, smaller, knife when they detained him. He also had what Kelly described as a "significant amount of money." Kelly said the suspect was mostly "incoherent" after being arrested, making a statement that "she had to die." The commissioner said he did not know who "she" referred to.

Kelly said Gelman had 10 previous arrests, mostly for drug charges and graffiti, plus one robbery charge. His most recent arrest was January 26, when he was accused of possessing crack cocaine.

For roughly the past seven years, Gelman has been a naturalized U.S. citizen. He arrived in this country with his father and mother in 1992 from his native Ukraine.

CNN's Cheryl Robinson contributed to this report