A woman was pushed to her death in front of a subway train at New York’s Times Square station.
The man believed responsible for the incident on Saturday morning fled the scene but turned himself in to transit police a short time later, the police commissioner, Keechant Sewell, said at a news conference with the mayor, Eric Adams, at the station.
The 40-year-old victim, a New York resident, was waiting for a southbound R train around 9.40am when she was apparently shoved, according to police.
“This incident was unprovoked, and the victim does not appear to have had any interaction with the subject,” Sewell said.
A second woman told police the man had approached her minutes earlier and she feared he would push her on to the tracks.
“He approaches her and he gets in her space. She gets very, very alarmed,” assistant chief Jason Wilcox said.
“She tries to move away from him and he gets close to her, and she feels that he was about to physically push her on to the train. As she’s walking away she witnesses the crime where he pushes our other victim in front of the train.”
The suspect, whose name has not yet been released, has a criminal history and has been on parole, Wilcox said.
“He does have in the past three emotionally disturbed encounters with us that we have documented,” he said.
Charges against him in connection with the alleged subway attack were pending, Wilcox said.
Subway conditions and safety have become a worry for some New Yorkers during the pandemic. Although police statistics show major felonies in the subways have dropped over the past two years, so has ridership, making it difficult to compare.
Several riders were slashed and assaulted by a group of attackers on a train in lower Manhattan in May, and four separate stabbings, two of them fatal, happened within a few hours on a single subway line in February.
In recent months, there have been several instances of people being stabbed, assaulted or shoved on to the tracks at stations in the Bronx, Brooklyn and at Times Square.
Adams, who has been mayor for two weeks, has noted that a perception of danger could drive more people to eschew the subway, complicating the city’s economic recovery as it tries to draw people back to offices, tourist attractions and more.
“We want to continue to highlight how imperative it is that people receive the right mental health services, particularly on our subway system,” the mayor said on Saturday.
“To lose a New Yorker in this fashion will only continue to elevate the fears of individuals not using our subway system. Our recovery is dependent on the public safety in this city and in the subway system.”
Under his predecessor, Bill de Blasio, the city repeatedly said it was deploying more police to subways after attacks last year and pressure from transit officials. The agency that runs the subway system, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, sped up work to install security cameras in all 472 subway stations citywide, finishing that project in September.