An Asian woman was pushed to her death at a subway station in Times Square on Saturday morning in what city officials are calling an "unprovoked" attack.
Authorities have a suspect in custody who turned himself in after allegedly pushing the 40-year-old New York City woman off of the Q/R platform near 42nd Street and Broadway and onto the tracks in front of an oncoming train.
The victim, who identity has been withheld while officials notify her family, died at the station.
Subway passengers alerted transit police after the woman fell onto the tracks around 9:39 a.m. The suspect was not apprehended at the station, but later turned himself into transit police, NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said.
“This incident was unprovoked, and the victim does not appear to have had any interaction with the subject,” Sewell said.
At an afternoon press conference held a host of city officials, police said the suspect initially targeted another woman on the platform before became physically violent with the 40-year-old victim.
“He approaches her and he gets in her space. She gets very, very alarmed,” Assistant Chief Jason Wilcox said, describing the earlier encounter. “She tries to move away from him and he gets close to her, and she feels that he was about to physically push her onto the train. As she’s walking away she witnesses the crime where he pushes our other victim in front of the train.”
Police later identified the man as 61-year-old Simon Martial, who has now been charged with murder in connection to the morning assault. His criminal history includes multiple prior arrests and has been on parole, sources told News 4.
“He does have in the past three emotionally disturbed encounters with us that we have documented,” Wilcox said.
Investigators believe the man was experiencing homelessness at the time of the assault.
In recent months there have been several instances of people being stabbed, assaulted or shoved onto the tracks at stations in the Bronx, Brooklyn and at Times Square.
Eric 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 Saturday. “To lose a New Yorker in this fashion will only continue to elevate the fears of individuals not using our subway system.”
State Senator John Liu called on the city to take immediate steps to help people who need mental health services in the wake of several high-profile attacks within a week against Asians.
“It’s 2022 and Asians in New York City and around America still suffer from relentless and hate-fueled attacks on a regular basis," Liu said in a statement. "Mayor Adams has shown tremendous promise in his commitment to address public safety, but hatred doesn’t care about who’s in office."
New York City experienced a significant increase in anti-Asian hate crimes last year. Police data shows incidents targeting Asians rose by 361 percent by December 2021, NBC News reports.