NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - New York City's homeless shelter system is a safety net for more than 60,000 people every day, but some residents in Manhattan's Kips Bay area are concerned that unrehabilitated ex-offenders from a nearby shelter are taking advantage and preying on them.
Surveillance video shows suspect John Marino, 56, in action during what police are calling a weeklong armed robbery spree. The out-of-state ex-con with at least 18 previous arrests was staying at the 800-bed men's emergency shelter on East 30 Street and First Avenue.
The NYPD says Marino, using a knife, targeted women. Victims included a clerk at the Health Source Pharmacy on East 34 Street and a woman getting cash out of a 23rd Street ATM. A female clerk at the Kips Bay Cleaners refused to hand over cash so he hit her in the head with a stapler and stole $110, police said. The NYPD said at least two other incidents happened within seven days in late October.
The shelter has support staff, social workers and security on site. They've helped many go on to permanent housing. But the buses bringing those recently released from upstate prisons right to the front door that has nearby residents concerned.
The Department of Homeless Services must, by law, provide shelter to anyone who asks for it, regardless of where they're from and their situation. But people in the neighborhood feel there must be a better way to screen out those who don't care about the helping hand or the community.