NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A horrific attack happened Thursday morning at the 14th Street-Union Square subway station.
Investigators say for no apparent reason a man pushed a stranger just waiting for a train onto the tracks, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported.
Police characterized the attack, which was captured on shocking surveillance video, as attempted murder.
An oncoming train appeared to be the trigger for the suspect, who darted over to a woman standing unaware until it was too late.
Police said the stranger said nothing before violently shoving the woman to what one would only imagine to be certain death.
“The perpetrator had no contact with the victim. There were no words exchanged,” NYPD Assistant Chief Kathleen O’Reilly said. “It’s very disturbing. We see him waiting, calculating, for the train to approach the station and the opportune moment.”
The train rolled by and the woman survived.
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Witnessing the incident from inside the train was Andre Gunter.
“I was in front, and then the next thing you kind of see somebody like falling on the track,” he told Carlin. “Then in a couple of seconds, the conductor stopped the train. This was before we even pulled up 100%. Then he came out, like traumatized, he was like ‘that was a person.’”
The victim was transported to Bellevue Hospital. She dodged grave injury because of the way she landed after the push, police said.
“She fell, fortunately for her, between the roll bed and the rails and there, but for the grace of God, sustained minor injuries,” Assistant Chief O’Reilly said.
Late Thursday, the injured woman returned to her Brooklyn home with cuts on her head. Family members said physically she’ll be fine, adding however that she is distraught mentally and did not want to talk about the attack and asked CBS2 not share her name.
Police identified the suspect as 24-year-old Aditya Vemulapati, who is believed to be homeless. He was charged with attempted murder and assault.
The suspect did not run away after the push. As the video shows, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority officer points him out to arresting officers.
The incident marked the second time in 14 hours that a stranger pushed a subway rider onto tracks. On Wednesday, a 36-year-old man was beaten and shoved to the train tracks at 42nd Street/Bryant Park. However, the NYPD on Thursday announced the arrest of 23-year-old Justin Pena. He was charged with attempted murder and reckless endangerment.
NYC Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg said the city must do more to address mentally ill people above ground and in the subways.
“It’s not fair to the people who are using the system. It’s not fair to the woman who experienced this today. We have a crisis in this city and it absolutely has to be addressed,” Feinberg said. “I’m desperate for this mayor or the next mayor to take it on because we have a long way to go.”
Feinberg praised the officers who were in the right place at the right time to make a quick arrest in the incident on Thursday.