Police reported that the woman was standing near the platform for the NQR line at the Times Square–42nd Street stop on Saturday morning when a man approached and pushed her in front of a southbound R train.
She was pronounced dead at the scene.
A 61-year-old man with a history of “emotional disturbance” encounters who police believe is homeless was captured on surveillance footage harassing another person before he pushed the victim, police announced at a press conference on Saturday.
He then entered a nearby train car, stepped off at the Canal Street stop and confessed to the crime at a nearby police station, police said. He was at the Times Square platform for roughly nine minutes.
Details about the victim, who police confirm is an Asian woman, have not been disclosed.
Police have not revealed what charges the suspect will face.
“We want to continue to highlight ... how imperative it is that people receive the right mental health services, particularly on our subway system,” Mayor Eric Adams said on Saturday. “We’re going to continue to do everything that’s possible to make our subway system safe, but again, we’re calling on all of our partners ... to ensure those who need mental health assistance receives it.”
Democratic US Representative Grace Meng, who represents New York in US Congress, said she that is “awaiting more info on this morning’s tragedy of an Asian woman pushed to her death, but we need to implement better policies to protect New Yorkers riding mass transit and to get people the proper help that they need – mental and social services.”
The unidentified woman’s death follows renewed pledges from the mayor to boost the presence of police at stations in an effort to prevent crime, and to hire outreach workers to assist homeless New Yorkers and people with mental illness riding the city’s subways.
“Omnipresence is the key,” the mayor said at a press conference this month. “People feel the system is not safe because they don’t see officers. We’re going to bring a visual presence to our systems.”
The mayor was seen travelling to the Times Square station on Saturday.
Ridership on the city’s subways in 2021 fell more than 50 per cent from their pre-pandemic rates. A series of high-profile crimes have drawn attention to subway violence however rates of major crimes were overall at their lowest in roughly two decades on the subway system.
More than 2,000 officers are assigned to patrol the city’s subways, and Mayor Adams and New York Governor Kathy Hochul said earlier this month that more officers will be performing sweeps across stations.
There were three murders reported in the city’s subways in 2019 and six in 2020. Six murders were reported last year through November.