Straphangers Subdue Suspect, Who Offers Baffling Explanation

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — This one fits nicely into the “you gotta be kidding me” category — even for New York City.

An evening commute turned into a near death experience for a Manhattan woman. Witnesses said they saw a crazed straphanger push her into the side of a moving train. The attack has some train riders on alert.

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An “R” train barreling into a Midtown subway station nearly killed 39-year-old Manhattanite Ute Linhart. But she didn’t fall in front of the train. She was pushed.

“It’s scary. It really is,” one rider told CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez.

Linhart was standing on the 28th Street subway platform when she said a suspicious looking man came creeping up on her. Linhart told police when the train pulled into the station the man pushed her into the oncoming train.

The impact sent Linhart flying back onto the platform. She suffered broken ribs, a broken left shoulder and left arm and a crushed sinus cavity.

One witness snapped a picture of the man she said is the alleged attacker Jose Rojas.

Straphangers kept the 25-year-old suspect up against a wall so he couldn’t get away. Prosecutors said Rojas admitted he pushed Linhart and told witnesses “I don’t know why I pushed her.”

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“There’s no going around stopping or preventing an assault like that from happening because it’s just inevitable,” said Bedford Stuyvesant resident Peter Macintosh.

When asked if she ever thinks about things like this happening to her while she’s standing on a subway platform, Dianna Marino of Astoria told CBS 2: “That somebody might push me into the train? No.”

But some subway riders told us this week’s unprovoked assault has them thinking about what they’ll do now to protect themselves.

“I have to be aware of my surroundings at all times. If not then something like that will occur,” said Yonira Couvertier of Queens.

“When someone looks a little suspicious I will shout and scream and say police,” added Mary Mejia of Queens.

“I keep away from the train. When it comes in I’m always back,” another rider told CBS 2.

Linhart is being treated at Bellevue Hospital, where she reportedly said she’ll never take the subway again.

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Rojas has been charged with second-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault, and is being held without bail.