Woman stabs busker at Chicago subway station because his music was ‘giving her a headache’


A woman stabbed a busker known as ‘Machete Mike’ at a Chicago subway station because his music was ‘giving her a headache’, officials said.

Barbara Johnson, 38, allegedly attacked Michael Malinowski, 26, on Tuesday at around 1.35 pm when he was playing at his usual spot in the Jackson subway station. 

She walked up to the guitarist, also known as ‘Machete Mike’, and unplugged his amplifier before pushing him and trying to shove him onto the subway tracks, prosecutors said.   

Johnson allegedly also threw his guitar onto the tracks.

She then took out a knife and stabbed Malinowski in his upper left arm before running away, Chicago police said.  

Officers arrested Johnson at the scene and charged her with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery in a public place and criminal damage to property. 

Johnson told police she attacked ‘Machete Mike’ because his music was giving her a headache, according to police reports. 

Malinowski had a laceration on his arm and was taken to Northwestern Hospital.  

Photos of the aftermath of the attack, posted on social media, showed the victim’s guitar smashed into pieces and lying on the subway tracks.  

Johnson appeared in court Thursday and was denied bail by a judge who said she is a ‘clear and present danger to the community’. 

The attack is the latest in a string of arrests for the Blue Island woman.

According to The Chicago Tribune, she has been arrested more than 40 times and has charges for: aggravated battery to a peace officer in 2005, aggravated battery causing great bodily harm in 2012, aggravated battery to a peace officer in 2014, resisting a peace officer in 2017, and misdemeanor battery in 2017. 

She was also cited for disorderly conduct on the CTA in 2010.

Following her latest arrest, her attorney said the accused suffers from ‘mental health illnesses’. 

Malinowski told the Tribune he was recovering from his injuries but that the attack puts his career at risk. 

‘I was bleeding out everywhere,’ he said. ‘She essentially destroyed my arm and that’s my whole livelihood.’    

The attack was the second in as many days on a Chicago train after a man shot a 30-year-old passenger in the back on Wednesday.   

Patrick Waldon, 31, was arrested and charged with aggravated battery with a firearm, armed robbery and being an armed habitual criminal after allegedly shooting the man in the back at close range when the victim refused to give him his backpack.  

Interim Chicago police Superintendent Charlie Beck said on Thursday he planned to meet with officials Friday to talk about deploying more police on the subway. 

He also said police faced challenges in tackling crimes linked to mental illness.

‘I think this also brings up a really serious issue that faces Chicago and other major cities in the United States, which is the incidence of violence connected to mental health,’ he said. 

‘How do we address that and what are the big systems we need to put in place.’  


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