Armed with a suitcase full of knives, an unidentified middle-aged man unleashed a rampage of violence inside the offices of an Upper East Side psychiatry practice on Tuesday night, fatally stabbing and slashing a well-known psychologist before wounding her colleague when he tried to come to her aid, officials said on Wednesday.
The assailant had not been identified as of Wednesday afternoon, the police said, though investigators were pursuing a theory that he was either a patient at the suite of offices, at 440 East 79th Street, or that he had some kind of ties to the establishment or the services it provided.
Originally, the assailant had arrived at the offices, about five seconds after 8 p.m. on Tuesday, asking to visit Dr. Kent T. Shinbach, 70, a psychiatrist there, the police said.
But at some point he disappeared inside the office of another counselor there, Kathryn Faughey, 56, the police said.
There, he unleashed a barrage of violence, fatally stabbing Dr. Faughey. At some point, when Dr. Shinbach heard the attack and went to the office of his colleague, the assailant turned on him and Dr. Shinbach was seriously injured, officials said.
The scene was marked by blood and upended furniture, the police and neighbors said.
“We could see in the office where the blinds had been ripped off and were hanging at a strange angle and the entire office was in disarray,” said Alexandra Pike, 20, a student who could see into the office where the attack occurred from the window of her apartment across the street. “Papers were strewn around and there was overturned furniture. And it was clear there was some kind of scuffle.”
It is unclear what the man’s motive was, and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly released a sketch of the suspect after a news conference at 1 Police Plaza on Wednesday, saying detectives were seeking him. The sketch was based on descriptions provided to detectives of those who saw the man in the moments before the attack — including the surviving victim — but who could not identify him by name.
“Obviously there is a forensic evidence aspect to this case,” Mr. Kelly said. “We’re getting information from the doctor and other medical professionals in the suite to determine if they have any information to add as the investigation goes forward.”
He added: “We’re fully engaged on several fronts.”
Mr. Kelly described the assailant as a man in his 40’s, about 5 feet 9 inches, with brownish or blond hair. He was wearing a three-quarter length green coat, with sneakers and a baseball cap, said Mr. Kelly, as he held up the sketch before a bank of television cameras.
The first sign of the man’s entrance at the building was captured on videotape —as he walked in the front door about five seconds after 8 p.m., passed by a doorman and went into the counselors’ suite of offices, the police said. He was inside for about an hour: A videotape showed him leaving through a basement door about 8:54 p.m., the police said, and it showed a view of him from his back.
Blood was found on the door — a panic door that locks on its own when it shuts — indicating the assailant might have been wounded.
Before he fled, the assailant left two suitcases in the basement. Inside one was assorted women’s clothing — some shoes, a top, as well as diapers for adults. He other had about eight knives, the police said. Upstairs in the room of Ms. Faughey, investigators found three other weapons, including two knives and a cleaver with a broken handle, the police said.
A female patient was in the lobby of the counselors’ suite when the assailant showed up, the police said. She apparently left before the attack on Dr. Faughey became known, but detectives tracked her down and interviewed her, the police said. Dr. Shinbach was also interviewed after undergoing surgery at New York Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.