A homeless man turned himself in to police on Saturday afternoon hours after he shoved an Asian woman into the path of an oncoming R train in Times Square in a possible hate crime, police officials announced.
The suspect — Simon Martial, 61 — was escorted from the Midtown South Precinct Saturday night in cuffs to be charged with murder in the second degree. When reporters questioned why Martial committed the cold-blooded crime, he began belligerently screaming, “Yes I did because I’m God. I can do it because I’m God!”
According to Assistant Chief Jason Wilcox, Martial is believed to be an emotionally disturbed homeless individual who allegedly accosted another woman prior to the murder, though she does not identify as a member of the AAPI community.
Police said the unnamed woman feared for her safety and backed away from the suspect when she saw him push the murder victim, a 40-year-old Asian woman, onto the tracks. Detectives are now working to determine whether the suspect acted out of hate, or if he chose the victim at random.
“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. When she was walking away she witnesses the crime where he pushes the other victim in front of the train,” Wilcox said.
Police said the 40-year-old Asian woman was waiting for a southbound R train at about 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 15 when she was suddenly pushed into its path, killing her instantly.
Law enforcement sources said the male suspect fled the scene, but later turned himself into police at Transit District 2 on Canal Street in Lower Manhattan. Police officials said he is known to the department due to four prior arrests.
Mayor Eric Adams and Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell joined police officials at the 40th Street and Broadway subway station on Jan. 15 to recount the horrific details of the murder.
Police said the driver of the R train was in extreme distress following the incident and was transported to a hospital.
Mayor Adams lauded the work of the NYPD and offered his condolences to the family following what he called a “senseless act of violence.”
The mayor also cited this horrific incident as an example for why immediate change is needed within the city. Adams called for the institution of Kendra’s Law, which would forcibly mandate individuals with serious mental illness to remain in treatment for up to a year.
“Far too often judges are reluctant to institute that law,” Adams said. “We want to continue to highlight how imperative it is that people receive the right mental health services particularly on our subway system to lose a New Yorker in this fashion would only continue to elevate the fears of individuals not using our subway system. Our recovery is dependent on the public safety in this city and in the subway system.”
This investigation is still ongoing.
Updated: In an older version of this story, Commissioner Sewell stated the woman was hit by a southbound Q train; however, it was a southbound R train.