It happened just after 9:30 a.m. inside the Times Square-42nd Street subway station.
Police say Michelle Alyssa Go, 40, of the Upper West Side was pushed onto the tracks as a southbound R train approached the station.
Go was pronounced dead on the scene.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams joined the NYPD at a press conference Saturday afternoon to give new details.
“This incident was unprovoked and the victim does not appear to have had any interaction with the subject,” Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said. “This was a senseless, absolutely senseless, act of violence.
Officials say the suspect, Simon Martial, 61, fled the scene but eventually turned himself in and is now in custody.
Martial has been arrested and charged with murder.
While the victim is Asian, police say the incident is not being treated as a hate crime at this time. Since the onset of the pandemic, a string of bias attacks have been reported in New York City.
Police believe Martial is homeless and authorities say the suspect was known to police and has prior arrests in 2017 and 1998 for the attempted robberies of cab drivers.
“To lose a New Yorker in this fashion would only continue to elevate the fears of individuals not using our subway system,” Adams said.
MTA Acting Chair and CEO Janno Lieber also spoke out after the incident.
“A New Yorker was going about her business right in the heart of our city in the heart of our subway system in Times Square. And she lost her life. This is unconscionable. This is unacceptable, it has to stop,” Lieber said.
Shocked subway riders looked on in disbelief.
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“People jump when they try to finish their life themselves, it’s okay, but to do it this way, it’s crazy,” subway rider Julia Avramenko said.
She says she is uneasy.
“I’m afraid to stay on the corner because I know that sometimes some crazy people can push somebody,” Avramenko said.
The Transit Workers Union is calling on the mayor to take more action to protect both the passengers and operators.
The vice president of the union representing New York City train conductors and operators released a statement reading in part:
“From shopping carts being set on fire causing the death of one of my members and passengers getting thrown in front of trains to their death, something has to be done.”
Last week, New York Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Adams announced a plan to calm New Yorkers’ fear about returning to the subways during the pandemic.
They announced that police will patrol the subways during their beat, looking to help the homeless.
“We’re going to get them the support they need, get them into shelter, and ultimately into housing,” Hochul said.
“You know this happens, but when you hear and you see it, it’s horrible for the family, the girl. It’s really scary,” subway rider Yolanda Vriones said.
The MTA has surveillance cameras in every subway station now.
Saturday’s incident was likely caught on subway cameras that could help police with their investigation.
The MTA said southbound N trains were running on the express track from 57th Street-7th Avenue to 34 Street-Herald Square and southbound R trains were running on the F line from 36th Street to West 4th Street-Washington Square and then via the D line to DeKalb Avenue.
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