NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Police say a man pushed an Asian woman in front of a moving train in Times Square, killing her, Saturday morning.
The suspect has been identified as 61-year-old Simon Martial, who is homeless.READ MORE: NYC Mourning NYPD Officers Wilbert Mora, Jason Rivera After Deadly Ambush In Harlem
Martial spoke out as he was escorted out of the Midtown South precinct Saturday, yelling, “Yes, I did.”
As CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon reports, NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell is calling this incident a “senseless, absolutely senseless act of violence.”
“This incident was unprovoked, and the victim does not appear to have had any interaction with the subject,” she said.
Saturday, Sewell and Mayor Eric Adams joined MTA Acting Chair Janno Lieber to condemn the violence that took the life of 40-year-old Michelle Alyssa Go, of the Upper West Side.
“This is a sad day. A New Yorker who’s 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.
Watch: Mayor Adams, Police Commissioner Sewell Briefing On Fatal Subway Shoving Incident
Police say it happened at the Times Square station around 9:40 a.m.
It’s alleged Martial shoved Go onto the southbound Q train tracks. She was then fatally struck.
Before that, police allege he was also taunting another woman, who was able to escape unharmed. Police say that woman is not Asian.
“He approaches her. He gets in her space. She gets very raised up, very alarmed. She tries to move away from him, and he gets close to her and she feels that he was about to physically push them onto the train. As she’s walking away, she witnesses the crime where he pushes our other victim in front of the train,” NYPD Detective Bureau Assistant Chief Jason Wilcox said.
Transit police say there were six officers assigned to the Times Square station, and two of those officers were on the platform when the incident happened.
Police say after the incident, Martial turned himself in.
Sources tell CBS2 Martial has a previous record of three emotionally disturbed incidents. They add he has four prior arrests, including several for robbery.
Police say there was a current warrant out for his arrest for allegedly violating his parole conditions.READ MORE: 5 Hurt, Dozens Displaced After Passaic Fire
Meanwhile, the train operator has “incredible trauma” after witnessing the incident, Lieber said, and subway riders who spoke to CBS2 said they are shaken.
“I find it very disheartening to see this. It’s a sign to me that the city is starting to fray,” subway rider Brandon Lewis said.
“It makes me feel less safe, yes, but it also makes me realize to be more aware of my surroundings,” another rider said.
Last week, the mayor and Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a joint safety plan to make the subway system safer. It includes teams of trained mental health professionals working to get the homeless off the subways, as well as bringing desk officers and patrol cops into the system. That will free up transit cops to ride trains.
The mayor is now reiterating that plan.
“We’re going to continue to do everything that’s possible to make our subway system safe,” Adams said.
Hochul tweeted, “Horrified by the tragedy at Times Square today. My heart is with the victim’s loved ones and with all who witnessed and responded to the devastating incident. We will continue working with the mayor to ensure everyone feels safe in our subway system.”
Horrified by the tragedy at Times Square today. My heart is with the victim’s loved ones and with all who witnessed and responded to the devastating incident.
We will continue working with @NYCMayor to ensure everyone feels safe in our subway system.
— Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) January 15, 2022
“New Yorkers deserve to be and must feel safe on the subway,” said Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg. “This is a top priority for my office.”
“This is such a tragedy. No passenger or employee should ever have to worry about their safety in the NYCT subway system,” said Canella Gomez, TWU Local 100 vice president. “With a new mayor it is time to come up with a real plan that works to deal with the homeless situation in the subway system. From shopping carts being set on fire causing the death of one of my members and passengers getting thrown in front of trains to their death something has to be done.”
“We are not going to lose focus on the safety of the subway system… we’re going to continue to be committed to that,” Adams said. “We must be safer in the system. I use the system. I use it a lot. And I want to make sure the passengers are safe.”
Police say it is unclear if Go was targeted because of her race.
“We want to make sure that we are continuing to combat discrimination against anyone, and that includes the AAPI community,” said Rep. Grace Meng.
CBS2 has been told Go’s family members are from out of town and are now traveling to New York in the aftermath of this incident.
As for the suspect, sources say Martial had previous addresses in the Bronx but was currently homeless. He is facing murder charges.
According to the latest data from the NYPD, there is a more than 100% increase in overall transit crimes in 2022 compared to the same time last year with 58 incidents in the first nine days of 2022 compared to 28 in the first nine days of 2021.MORE NEWS: Bald Eagle Spotted At Central Park Reservoir
CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon contributed to this report.