Williamsburg Bridge horror: Homeless man sentenced for stabbing skateboarder

November 20, 2023 Robert Abruzzese, Courthouse Editor
District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, shown here, announced the sentencing of Omar Cartagena to 14 years to life in prison for the unprovoked stabbing of a skateboarder on the Williamsburg Bridge.Photo: Paul Frangipane/Brooklyn Eagle
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In a case of unprovoked violence, a homeless man named Omar Cartagena, 46, has been sentenced to 14 years to life in prison for a brutal attack on a skateboarder on the Williamsburg Bridge. 

District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced the sentencing on Friday and in doing so he highlighted the severity and unprovoked nature of the assault that left the victim critically injured.

“This was a brutal and horrifying attack on a completely innocent man,” Gonzalez said. “I am committed to keeping the people of Brooklyn safe from violence. With today’s lengthy sentence, the defendant will be held accountable for his actions.”

On October 16, 2021, Cartagena, while riding a bicycle, attacked a 30-year-old skateboarder crossing the Williamsburg Bridge. 

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The incident began with Cartagena yelling at the victim to move out of the way. Despite the victim’s compliance, Cartagena escalated the situation by stabbing him in the chest. The attack was severe enough to require the victim to undergo emergency surgery at Elmhurst Hospital, including a sternotomy, due to significant internal bleeding. He spent eight days in the hospital recovering from his injuries.

Despite his critical condition, the victim managed to take photos of Cartagena, both during his escape and while waiting at the end of the bridge, knife in hand. These photos played a crucial role in Cartagena’s apprehension by detectives who recognized him while canvassing the area around the bridge. He was found with a bloody knife tucked in his waistband, which later tested positive for the victim’s DNA.

Further investigations revealed that Cartagena had committed another stabbing in the interim between the Williamsburg Bridge assault and his arrest. He attacked a 34-year-old man on the Lower East Side. Cartagena also pleaded guilty to second-degree assault in Manhattan and received a concurrent sentence of 14 years to life.

Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Eugene Guarino presided over the sentencing. Cartagena was deemed a mandatory persistent violent felony offender, given his history of previous felony convictions. 


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