The attacks began in Queens, when a 39-year-old woman was slashed. Three hours later, a 55-year-old liquor-store owner was stabbed to death, and a 61-year-old homeless man was set afire.
Two hours later, police received a report of a burglary in progress. Two officers caught up to the suspect in the backyard of a home.
The suspect, James Patrick Dillon, 23, had a knife, and a beer bottle containing an accelerant, police said.
The officers ordered him to drop the knife, but he sprayed the chemical onto the officers. They fired their weapons, wounding him.
“I heard pop-pop outside and thought it was firecrackers,” a witness told the Daily News. “I went outside and there were cops everywhere, running down the block with their guns drawn.”
Both officers suffered burns and were in stable condition. Dillon was hospitalised and has not yet been charged. It wasn’t clear if Dillon had a lawyer.
At a press conference, police said Dillon had been treated for psychological problems in the past, and that family members said he had not been taking his medication recently.