Simon Martial, 61, was charged with second-degree murder after pushing Go, an Asian American woman, in front of a southbound R train Saturday morning. Martial had an extensive criminal history dating back to the 1990s. He was also wanted on an outstanding warrant when he attempted to push another woman onto the tracks before approaching Go.
He was not charged with a hate crime, but the NYPD said the investigation was ongoing.
"We know that public safety is not only actual but perceived. When you have an incident like this, the perception is what we're fighting against. This is a safe system," said Adams during a media briefing.
Adams also announced a new initiative to crack down on transit crime and expand mental health outreach.
Go, of the Upper West Side, was killed just after 9:30 a.m. in the 42nd Street and Broadway subway station where police officers were stationed.
Martial screamed," I am God," as police led him out of the Midtown Precinct South
"This incident was unprovoked, and the victim does not appear to have had any interaction with the subject," Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said at a press conference Saturday afternoon.
"He approaches her and he gets in her space. She gets very, very alarmed," Wilcox said, describing the earlier encounter. "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. As she’s walking away she witnesses the crime where he pushes our other victim in front of the train."
Adams says the NYPD would ensure the transit system was safe for commuters after the attack.
"This is a safe system because of the job of the transit officers have carried out," Adams said. "We're going to continue to enhance, to deal with the mental health crisis that we have in our system."
Adams also called on all levels of government to ensure that people in the midst of mental health crises are able to get the assistance they need.
"A New Yorker was 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. This is unconscionable. This is unacceptable, it has to stop," said MTA Acting Chair and CEO Janno Lieber.
"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," Governor Kathy Hochul said in a tweet. "We will continue working with @NYCMayor to ensure everyone feels safe in our subway system."
Subway conditions and safety have become a worry for many New Yorkers during the pandemic. Although police statistics show major felonies in the subways have dropped over the past two years, so has ridership, making it difficult to compare.
And some recent attacks have gotten public attention and raised alarms. In September, three transit employees were assaulted in separate incidents on one day. Several riders were slashed and assaulted by a group of attackers on a train in lower Manhattan in May, and four separate stabbings — two of them fatal — happened within a few hours on a single subway line in February.
In recent months there have been several instances of people being stabbed, assaulted or shoved onto the tracks at stations in the Bronx, Brooklyn and at Times Square.
Earlier this month, Hochul and Adams had unveiled a new plan to target public safety issues in the city, including street homelessness and subway crime.