Terrified passengers locked in New York subway carriage after man stabbed stranger to death in row over a seat

A New York man was stabbed to death on a subway train in front of horrified passengers after an argument over a seat.

Dwight Johnson had placed his bag on the spot next to him when Gerardo Sanchez demanded it be moved so he could sit down.

Sanchez snapped when Johnson pointed out there were plenty of other empty seats on the 2am 'D Train', New York police said.   

The 37-year-old rat catcher - who was still in his uniform - pulled out a steak knife and stabbed Johnson to death.

New York subway train

Horror: Passengers were forced to stay in the same carriage after a man is said to have stabbed a vagrant to death (file picture)

When one man pulled the emergency brake, about 30 passengers found themselves trapped in the carriage with a crazed knife killer and his dying victim.

The train moved off after about a minute and Sanchez was arrested at the next stop.

Eye-witness Vincent Martinez told how he decided to pull the emergency cord after Sanchez attacked Johnson.

The 25-year-old security guard told the New York Daily News: 'He was screaming, "I'm dying, I'm dying," and there was blood coming out of his mouth and spraying out his neck.

'Before you know it, everyone is on one side screaming and yelling. I was banging and banging on the door to where the guy drives the train, but he didn't answer.

'The killer was following him and grabbing him, saying, "You should have let me sit down".'

Unable to get the driver's attention and fearing Sanchez would run away when the train arrived at Seventh Avenue, Martinez pulled the emergency brake and the car came to a halt.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg takes the subway to City Hall in Manhattan. He insisted the underground was still safe to use

Police said the 37-year-old Sanchez pried open the doors and dropped the knife on the tracks.

Just minutes later, the train was moving again as the engineer radioed ahead, and police met the train when it pulled into the station at 53rd Street.

One door was opened as police worked their way back to the crime scene. Sanchez was arrested as he stood over the body, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Monday. The arrest took just minutes. No one else was injured.

On Monday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended what happened next: Passengers were briefly trapped with the suspect and the bleeding victim because police kept the subway doors closed as they combed the cars looking for the crime scene.

'Letting everybody run in every direction and have a murderer back on the streets doesn't make a lot of sense to me,' Bloomberg said.

Sanchez pleaded not guilty to charges of murder. His Legal Aid attorney did not immediately return a call seeking comment. His brother, Louis Sanchez, told reporters that the family was struggling to understand what happened.

'He's a family man, he's not a beast,' the brother told reporters after the arraignment Sunday.

Louis Sanchez told the Daily News that his brother recently had been hurt in a workplace accident and had been taking pain medication. He was being held without bail.

Johnson, 36, died at the scene. Little was known about him, and there was no number at the address provided by police.

Bloomberg noted the subways are safer than ever, and there had not been a slaying in the subway system this year.

'I have empathy for everybody that is in danger,' the mayor said of the passengers on the train with the suspect. 'The truth of the matter is our subways are very, very safe,' he said.

About 5.2 million people ride the New York City subway every day.

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now