According to a news release from the New York Police Department, a man was arrested Saturday morning after allegedly pushing a woman in front of an oncoming subway train.
The suspect, identified as 61-year-old Simon Martial, was charged with second-degree murder, according to the NYPD. He surrendered to police less than an hour after the incident and was arrested.
Sgt. Anwar Ishmael of the New York Police Department described the incident as “random.”
Michelle Alyssa Go, 40, was pushed onto the tracks of an oncoming train at the Times Square-42nd Street subway station, according to police. According to authorities, the suspect then fled the scene. The incident, which occurred around 9:40 a.m., was “unprovoked, and the victim does not appear to have any interaction with the subject,” according to NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell during a news conference on Saturday. According to Sewell, an investigation is ongoing.
According to NYPD Assistant Chief Jason Wilcox, the suspect approached a different woman on the train platform minutes before the woman was pushed onto the oncoming train. Wilcox stated that the woman felt like she was going to be pushed by the suspect and told police that she saw him push the victim onto the tracks as she was walking away.
Mayor Eric Adams told the media on Sunday that the subway system is safe. Deloitte Services LP, a multimillion-dollar financial services firm, hired Go.
Go was a member of the New York Junior League (NYJL). Go’s president, Dayna Barlow Cassidy, stated that the organization is collaborating with several NYJL community partners who serve at-risk communities.
During a Saturday briefing, Chief of Transit Kathleen M. O’Reilly stated that a “robust” plan was in place, with six officers assigned to that station and the trains as part of their transit overlay. “Unfortunately, these incidents do occur, but they are rare,” O’Reilly said. “This one is very harrowing and disturbing, and it was unpreventable by our officers.”
Martial has a criminal history and three “emotionally disturbed encounters,” according to NYPD Assistant Chief Jason Wilcox. Minutes before allegedly pushing Go onto the tracks, the suspect approached another woman, who later told police she felt like she was going to be pushed and walked away, according to Wilcox.
Adams stated on Sunday that the suspect was only in the subway system for nine minutes.
According to Adams, it can take up to two hours for officials to remove a person from a subway station. “We don’t want that,” said the mayor. “We need a quicker turnaround.”
At a news conference earlier this month, Adams and Hochul announced an initiative to address both public safety in the subway system, by sending more officers to inspect subways and stations, and the homelessness crisis, by deploying trained mental health personnel across the city to assist individuals who are homeless.
In a news conference on Saturday, Adams reiterated that he was working closely with Sewell, the police commissioner, on a plan that included both reducing crime and focusing on mental health.
Subway crime in general, according to Janno Lieber, acting chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, is “way down.”
While police are calling her death a random attack and not a hate crime, Go’s death has reignited concerns in the Asian American community.
The incident comes as attacks on Asian New Yorkers “continue to be on the rise,” according to US Rep. Grace Meng, a Democrat from New York. Meng, whose congressional district includes Queens, has advocated for improved policies regarding mass transit safety, as well as mental health and social services.
Attacks on Asian Americans in the United States have seen a violent increase in recent years, which has only worsened since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. In New York, a 62-year-old Asian man died last month after being bashed in the head in an unprovoked attack in East Harlem in April, according to police.
Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the Asian American Federation, said in a statement on Saturday that Go’s death “reminds us that our community’s fear of anti-Asian violence is well-founded.”