A woman was killed Saturday morning after being pushed past an oncoming subway train at Times Square station, police said.
The woman was standing on the platform around 9:30 a.m. waiting for the train to arrive at the 42nd Street station in Manhattan, police said. As a Brooklyn-bound R train pulled into the station, she was pushed onto the tracks and hit by it.
She died at the scene, police said. His name was not immediately released.
Officers arrested a man who they believe may be homeless soon after, and he was still being questioned around 11 a.m., police said. A second man was also being questioned, police said.
Mayor Eric Adams visited the station on Saturday and was due to hold a press conference with police and transit officials in the afternoon.
The woman who was killed was Asian, although it is unclear whether she was targeted because of her race or ethnicity.
Unprovoked attacks on Asian Americans during the pandemic, including several on the subway, have stoked fear and anger in New York and elsewhere, with activists and elected officials pointing to both mental illness and the impact rhetoric blaming China’s coronavirus.
Saturday’s murder is at the heart of several issues that have raised concerns among some New Yorkers about subway safety since the start of the pandemic. It came after state and city officials this month announced changes to how police would operate in the transit system and work with homeless people in a bid to attract more passengers.
Governor Kathy Hochul and Mr Adams said the more than 2,000 officers tasked with patrolling the system will conduct more regular sweeps of subway platforms and trains as they try to allay general concerns about the crime.
Elected officials said Saturday’s killing underscores the importance of a more comprehensive approach to safety and roaming issues on the subway.
“We need to implement better policies to protect New Yorkers using public transit and to get people the help they need — mental and social services,” Rep. Grace Meng said. wrote on Twitter after the murder.
The state plans to develop small teams of social workers and medical professionals to provide services as homelessness on the streets and subways persists for thousands of people. Officials said transport workers will make referrals to teams, in an effort to better meet the needs of people who are homeless or have mental illnesses.
Mr Adams said he believed an underlying ‘perception of crime’ had raised concern among some Tube riders.
Transit officials pointed out that serious crime in the system is at its lowest level in decades and that major crime was at its lowest combined total in 25 years through November. However, ridership was also much lower and the rate of several crimes per million users has increased since 2019.
High-profile attacks throughout the pandemic against Asian New Yorkers, as well as other episodes, such as muggings, stabbings and pushing people onto lanes, also generated a flurry of reporting on the violence that transit officials say fueled fears.
Three murders were reported in 2019 in the system; this number doubled to six in 2020. Through November, six murders were also reported in 2021.
Michael Gold contributed report.