Street musician injured in Loop Red Line stabbing speaks after Blue Island woman charged

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CHICAGO (WLS) -- A musician who was stabbed at a CTA Red Line station spoke exclusively to ABC7 about the attack, which has left him unable to play guitar right now.

Michael Malinowski was playing guitar at the State and Jackson subway station when he was stabbed several times in the arm.

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Michael Malinowski was playing guitar at the State and Jackson subway station when he was stabbed several times in the arm.

Malinowski said he's still in excruciating pain. The popular street musician known as "Machete Mike" for his amazing talent on the guitar ironically fell victim to an alleged deranged woman wielding a large kitchen knife on the Red Line CTA platform.

"When I turned around, bam! She just hit me," he said. "I didn't realized I got stabbed right away. It just hit me so fast."

RELATED: Street performer seriously injured in CTA Red Line stabbing on Jackson platform

Malinowski is a regular performer at CTA stops. He's a star on YouTube with dozens of videos featuring his versatile guitar playing posted. He says he makes enough in tips to pay his rent and other expenses.

"The best crowds I've had with my own music would be down there," he said. "Most money I've made performing my actual renditions is down there."

He said he'd never seen the woman who allegedly stabbed him, 38-year-old Barbara Johnson, before, but prosecutors say she has a long criminal history and possible mental illness.

"It's a really serious issue that faces Chicago and every major city in the United States is the incidence of violence connected to mental health," Interim Chicago Police Supt. Charlie Beck said.

Malinowski had no idea who she was or why she was there. He says at first, she walked up and unplugged his amp.

"A lady just walked up out of nowhere and unplugged my amp, and at first I thought my amp blew. I didn't realize what happened," he explained.

"You could tell she was definitely intoxicated or drunk," he added. "She was just like, 'I'm not in a mood to hear that, you're giving me a headache.'"

Malinowski said he tried to resume playing.

"I was telling her, 'Leave me alone, man, please. Just get the hell out of here,'" he recalled. "Then she tried pushing me onto the train tracks."

With a train quickly approaching he said he fought back, wrestling with the stranger on the platform. Then she stabbed him. After stabbing him she destroyed his musical equipment, including his guitar and amps.

It was all apparently caught on CTA security cameras. Police chased down his alleged attacker, arrested her, and charged her.

Prosecutors said Johnson, of Blue Island, has five previous felony convictions. She has been charged with one felony count of aggravated battery/use of a deadly weapon, one felony count of aggravated battery in a public place and one misdemeanor count of criminal damage to property. She's being held without bond.

But that outcome is rare.

City of Chicago records show nearly 6,200 crimes on public transportation over the last 10 years, but only 835 of them have produced arrests.

Friday Supt. Beck is leading a meeting to change those numbers.

"There are over 30,000 cameras on the CTA system," Beck said. "We will use those cameras and we will ensure that people that target victims on public transportation are prosecuted to the fullest extent. There is no resource that will be spared."

In the meantime, Malinowski - who has no health insurance - is unable to play for the foreseeable future, which means he has no income.

"I can still move my fingers, but I can't raise my arm very much," Malinowski said. "I can't really do anything with it."

Malinowski's sister started a GoFundMe campaign to help with medical expenses and replacing his music gear.
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