NEW YORK (AP) – Police suspect a knife-wielding homeless man went on a rampage, stabbing four people, including two female Canadian tourists and a Texas man, in a bloody, 12-hour span before getting nabbed early Wednesday.

Kenny Alexis, 21, was taken into custody without incident around 4:15 a.m. outside a fast-food restaurant in midtown Manhattan shortly after the two women, both from Montreal, were stabbed, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

The police department’s top spokesman, Paul Browne, said Alexis admitted to stabbing the Canadians, a Brooklyn man and the man from Texas. The latter two were ambushed in separate subway attacks. Browne said witnesses had also fingered Alexis in all the attacks but one.

Alexis had in his possession the folding knife used in the attacks on the two women when he was apprehended, Kelly added.

Charges were pending Wednesday night against Alexis, who was living in a West Side men’s shelter. Police, who are still investigating the attacks, said Alexis was arrested previously in Boston and New York on a number of charges, including attempted assault and criminal mischief.

Police were trying to figure out the motive behind the violent crime spree, and said they had not uncovered any signs that Alexis is mentally ill. Kelly said during a news conference Wednesday that there was no evidence to suggest Alexis was targeting tourists.

Three of the four victims remained in the hospital as of Wednesday night. All were expected to survive.

The last attack occurred around 4 a.m. as the Canadian women, Melanie Carrier, 22, and Audrey Perrier, 25, were walking not far from the Hotel Edison, where they were staying.

After crossing Broadway and 47th Street into a popular square, Alexis approached the women and stabbed each one in the back before fleeing, Kelly said.

The women walked over to a W Hotel, where two security officers tended to them and called 911. Two W Hotel doormen followed the suspect to a McDonald’s and waited for police, who nabbed him as he was leaving the restaurant, according to police and hotel spokeswoman Jane Lehman.

Kelly said Perrier had been treated and released.

Thirty minutes prior to that attack, police said Alexis entered the deli and tried to take two beers. The store employee confronted Alexis, who brandished a knife and ran away.

At about 3 a.m. and an hour before the Canadians were stabbed, 30-year-old Ambrosio Castro was waiting with a friend on a midtown subway platform in Rockefeller Center when he was stabbed twice in the stomach and chest. Police said Alexis demanded Castro, who lives in Brooklyn, hand over his cell phone in what was an apparent robbery.

At about 4 p.m. Tuesday, Kelly said Christopher McCarthy, 21, of Houston, was knifed by Alexis in a subway car on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

McCarthy and his girlfriend had gotten lost after heading in the wrong direction on the subway, and switched trains to travel back downtown when he was assaulted.

Kelly said detectives had also linked Alexis to a palm print that was found on the subway train in which McCarthy was riding. McCarthy was in critical but stable condition after barely surviving the attack. He’d been stabbed near his heart.

McCarthy’s father, Joe, came to Manhattan from Houston and said during a news conference that his son had forgiven the assailant responsible. “He hopes that (the attacker) can get help,” said Joe McCarthy, who was accompanied by his wife.

Police in Boston arrested Alexis twice in less than two months earlier this year, and a records mishap made it appear that he did not have a prior criminal record when a judge released him without bond, according to a spokesman for the Suffolk County, Mass., district attorney.

After both arrests – one in February for trespassing and one in March after he berated people and broke a glass at a restaurant – Alexis was evaluated by court-appointed doctors and found mentally competent, spokesman David Procopio said. He did not appear at follow-up court dates in either Boston case, Procopio said.

With millions of people riding the subway every day, McCarthy’s stabbing drew troubling comparisons to the 1990 death of 22-year-old Brian Watkins, the Utah tourist stabbed to death in a Manhattan subway station while defending his mother during a robbery.

Kelly said the subway system had never been safer, and police handed out statistics documenting that violent crime had fallen substantially.

The slew of stabbings comes on the heels of recent news that violent crime as a whole in the city continues to decline despite a national spike. The FBI has said that while homicides rose 4.8 percent nationwide last year, they fell 5.4 percent between 2004 and 2005 in New York City.

Violent crime in New York dropped 1.9 percent, according to the FBI, in a year when such crimes rose 2.5 percent nationwide. That was the largest percentage increase since 1991.

Associated Press writers Pat Milton and Karen Matthews in New York and Andrew Ryan in Boston contributed to this report.

AP-ES-06-14-06 2239EDT

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