The man, identified as 61-year-old Simon Martial, was charged with second-degree murder, NYPD said. He turned himself in to an NYPD bureau less than an hour after the incident and was taken into custody. CNN has not been yet been able to identify an attorney for Martial.
NYPD Sgt. Anwar Ishmael called the incident a “random” attack.
Police said 40-year-old Michelle Alyssa Go died after she was pushed onto the tracks of the oncoming train at Times Square 42nd Street subway station. The suspect then fled the scene, authorities said.
The incident, which took place around 9:40 a.m., was “unprovoked and the victim does not appear to have any interaction with the subject,” NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said during a Saturday news conference. An investigation is ongoing, Sewell said.
The suspect has a criminal background and three “emotionally disturbed encounters,” NYPD Assistant Chief Jason Wilcox said. Minutes before the suspect pushed Go onto the tracks, he had approached another woman who later told police she felt like she was going to be pushed and walked away, Wilcox said.
“Today, a woman entered the subway station, like any New Yorker, just trying to get where she needed to go,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement
on Twitter. “New Yorkers deserve to feel safe while riding mass transit. It’s why I stood with (New York Gov. Kathy Hochul) to announce the Safe Options Support teams.”
“We’re providing more law enforcement resources and mental health services to prevent problems before they happen,” the mayor added.
In 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 as well as the homelessness crisis, by deploying trained mental health personnel across the city to support individuals who are homeless.
Adams reiterated in Saturday’s news conference he was working closely with Sewell, the police commissioner, on a plan which covers both minimizing crime and focusing on mental health.
“To lose a New Yorker in this fashion would only continue to elevate the fears of individuals not using our subway system,” the mayor said. “Our recovery is dependent on the public safety in this city and in this subway system. We can do that with the right balance, a balance of safety and a balance of proactively giving people the assistance they need when they’re in mental health crisis.”
Janno Lieber, the acting chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said in a statement subway crime in general is “way down.”
“This is a sad day, 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,” Lieber said. “This is unconscionable, this is unacceptable, it has to stop.”
Rep. Grace Meng, who also called for better policies around safety on mass transit and mental health and social services, also noted
the incident comes as attacks on Asian New Yorkers “continue to be on the rise.”
Attacks on Asian Americans across the country have seen a violent rise in attacks
in recent years that has only worsened
since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Also in New York, a 62-year-old Asian man who police said was bashed in the head in an unprovoked attack
in East Harlem in April died from his injuries last month.
In a statement on Saturday, Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the Asian American Federation, said Go’s death is a “reminder that the fear of anti-Asian violence in our community is well-founded.
“It is imperative that New York City implements proactive, community-based solutions that prevent these crimes from ever happening in the first place,” she added.