A burly, self-described martial-arts buff from Northeast Philadelphia fought off a knife-wielding alleged serial killer in a New York City subway car early Saturday, allowing police finally to nab the blood-soaked suspect.
Joseph Lozito, 40, who reportedly commutes by train to work as a ticket-taker at Lincoln Center, was stabbed in the head as he fought off the suspect - a 23-year-old Brooklyn man now accused of four brutal slayings in little more than a day.
"He's 2 or 3 feet away from me, and he pulls this knife out, looks me in the eye and says, 'You're gonna die,' " Lozito told the New York Post in a news conference from his Manhattan hospital bed.
The brawl between the Philadelphian and the alleged killer - which played out like a scene in a Hollywood movie - ended a bizarre 28-hour spree of murder and mayhem that terrified citizens of the nation's largest city.
Maksim Gelman last night was still awaiting arraignment in Brooklyn on charges that he hacked three people to death, then stalked New York City for more than a day - attacking innocent strangers, hijacking vehicles and killing a pedestrian with a car.
The final encounter took place Saturday morning after Lozito - married, with two children - boarded a No. 3 train under New York's Penn Station for the final leg of his long commute. Gelman, the alleged killer, also had boarded there - jumping from the tracks - as he tried to avoid a massive police manhunt.
There was a commotion as Gelman sought to enter the compartment of the motorman running the train, only to find two cops stationed there. He turned around and instead lunged at passenger Lozito.
He picked the wrong guy.
Lozito, who stands 6 feet 2 and weighs more than 260 pounds, said that he decided to go down fighting. He told the New York Daily News that he tackled Gelman and was trying to grab his wrist as he sliced at his arm and face.
" 'You better hope that I die because I'm going to come kill you!' " Lozito said he told the slasher. He told the New York tabloid that he took Gelman down with a leg sweep that he'd seen watching mixed martial arts on TV, but then the suspect pulled out an 8-inch chef's knife and began slashing.
The two cops from the motorman's car raced out and subdued Gelman, who, beginning last Friday, allegedly stabbed and killed his stepfather, a female acquaintance and her mother - and then fatally ran down a motorist after a bloody carjacking.
Doctors at New York's Bellevue Hospital closed a 4-inch gash in the back of Lozito's head and numerous other wounds to his head and left arm, according to the New York Daily News. Remarkably, he was released from the hospital last night.
"I am not a hero," he said in the bedside interview with New York reporters. "I would have done what any other person would have done, but he picked me. I'm glad he picked me. There were a lot of women and children on the train who couldn't defend themselves. He picked me and instinct kicked in."
The Associated Press and staff writer Dafney Tales contributed to this report.