Homeless Man Charged with Murder for Allegedly Shoving Woman in Front of N.Y.C. Subway Train

NYPD Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell says the 40-year-old victim was waiting for a train when the suspect pushed her in front of a southbound R line train

Times Square New York Subway Station
Photo: Xinhua/M IchaelNagle/wangying via Getty

A homeless man has been charged with second-degree murder after allegedly shoving a 40-year-old woman in front of an oncoming subway train in New York City, according to authorities.

Simon Martial, 61, was arrested and charged Saturday shortly after the mid-morning incident, a spokesperson for the New York Police Department confirmed to PEOPLE. The victim has been confirmed as Michelle Alyssa Go of the Upper West Side.

At a Saturday news conference, NYPD Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said the victim was waiting for a train on the RQ platform at the Times Square Station on 42nd Street when the suspect pushed her onto the tracks in front of a southbound R line train around 9:30 a.m. local time.

Go was found "unconscious and unresponsive" on the train tracks when officers arrived, per the NYPD statement obtained by PEOPLE. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Simon turned himself in to transit police a short time after allegedly committing the crime, Sewell said. Assistant Chief Jason Wilcox said Simon had "three emotionally disturbed encounters" in the past documented by the NYPD.

Trains on the N, Q, and R subway lines were delayed and rerouted until shortly after 3 p.m. local time as police investigated the incident, said MTA Deputy Communications Director Aaron Donovan in a statement to PEOPLE.

Police believe the incident was "unprovoked" and that the victim did not appear to have interacted with the suspect prior to her death, Sewell added.

"This was a senseless — absolutely senseless — act of violence," said the commissioner during Saturday's news conference. "Our investigators are actively investigating this crime and our uniformed officers will remain vigilant throughout the subway system."

MTA Acting Chair and CEO Janno Lieber made similar comments later in the conference, calling the violence "unconscionable" and "unacceptable."

"It has to stop, as the mayor said," said Lieber, referencing Mayor Eric Adams' comments earlier in the conference, "this is not the first time this has happened. There have been some of these high profile subway pushings, in the latter half even of 2021."

"Our hearts go out to the victim obviously, but also to the train operator who has incredible trauma from having, unfortunately, experienced that moment when somebody was pushed in front of his train," Lieber noted. The train operator has since been hospitalized.

NYPD Assistant Chief Jason Wilcox said a second woman told police that she encountered Simon minutes before Go was attacked. She claimed that she was concerned about him attempting to push her onto the tracks.

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Describing the scene, Wilcox told reporters, "He approaches her and he gets in her space. She gets very, 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 her onto the train."

Wilcox said the woman then witnessed the suspect push Go in front of the oncoming train.

Both Lieber and Adams highlighted the importance of improving safety and trust in the MTA as New Yorkers begin using public transportation more following lulls due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Adams said Saturday that the city's recovery "is dependent on the public safety in this city and in the subway system."

"We want to continue to highlight how imperative it is that people receive the right mental health services, particularly on our subway system," the mayor said. "To lose a New Yorker in this fashion will only continue to elevate the fears of individuals not using our subway system."

"New Yorkers need a safe system, period end," Lieber added, pointing to the need for "an aggressive program of action" to deal with the ongoing mental health crisis.

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