An Asian woman was killed when a man pushed her in front of an oncoming subway train in New York City on Saturday morning.
Authorities identified her as Michelle Alyssa Go, a 40-year-old woman from the Upper West Side. Go was standing alone waiting for the train at the Times Square station at West 42nd Street and Broadway around 9:30 am when she was attacked.
“This incident was unprovoked, and the victim does not appear to have any interaction with the subject,” said NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell. “This was a senseless, absolutely senseless, act of violence.”
The man allegedly responsible, 61-year-old Simon Martial, fled the scene and later turned himself in at a police precinct.
Chief Jason Wilcox from the NYPD Detective Bureau confirmed during a press conference with the mayor and local officials Saturday afternoon that the suspect was known to police, with “three emotionally disturbed encounters we have documented.” Police believe he was experiencing homelessness.
It is so far unclear if Go was targeted because of her race. Police and the Manhattan district attorney said they were still investigating possible charges and evaluating the evidence.
“Too often, Asian Americans are seen as foreigners and people who are not truly American, and we want to make sure we are standing as a city against discrimination,” Rep. Grace Meng, who represents the 6th District in Queens, said at a press conference.
Hate incidents against Asian Americans have exploded in the US during the pandemic. A recent report from Stop AAPI Hate cited more than 10,000 hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders between March 19, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021.
Older Asian people, many of them immigrants, have been targeted in unprovoked attacks, including stabbings, shootsand beats. In March 2020, six Asian women were killed in a series of shootings at spas in the Atlanta area.
Wilcox noted that although the victim was Asian, minutes before the violent attack, Martial had approached another woman on the platform, who was not Asian, and made threatening movements toward her. She feared he would push her onto the tracks and moved away before witnessing him push and kill Go.
The NYPD has ramped up its patrol of subway platforms and trains after an increase in transit crimes during the pandemic. Two officers were on the subway platform at the time of the attack.