Man pepper-sprays child, tourist who took pic of his subway picnic.
A man pepper-sprayed a tourist and 10-year-old girl inside this subway station after the tourist took a photo of his subway train picnic. (Wikimedia)

New York is a city where we can literally see anything on the subway, from the most unexpected animals to impromptu concerts and celebrities, and luckily, our phones are always at the ready to capture proof.

Sometimes, though, those secret snaps are not-so-secret and can lead to unpredictable results. Such is the story of Toronto artist Maria Antoniv, who was pepper-sprayed after she took a picture of a man having a picnic, complete with beach chairs and coolers, on an uptown 6 train on Saturday, the New York Daily News reported.

Antoniv was with friend Mariana Stapaj and her 10-year-old daughter Samantha Stapaj, who reside on the Upper East Side, at the Lexington Avenue-53rd Street station when they saw the man having the picnic with a woman and baby and took a photo.

The man, later identified as Dasheen Simpkins, approached Antoniv and pepper-sprayed her in the eyes and Samantha on the forehead.


“It felt like burning,” the 10-year-old told the Daily News.

Police arrived on the scene, and Simpkins, who was still on the train, was arrested at the 46th Street-Broadway station in Queens. The 24-year-old, who has 24 prior arrests, was charged with possession of a weapon, attempted assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

Antoniv, who had arrived at Port Authority just an hour prior to the pepper-spray incident, immediately headed home to Toronto afterward.

Mariana Stapaj offered a poignant piece of advice to remember the next time you see something out-there on the train and want to take a picture.

“Don’t look at anybody — just go your way,” she said.   

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