A New York man accused of pushing a 52-year-old woman onto subway tracks at a station in the Bronx has been arrested on assault and reckless endangerment charges, police said — the latest attack in the city’s transportation system.
The woman was taken to a hospital and listed in stable condition, police said. The extent of her injuries is not known.
Authorities said the man, who has been identified by police as Theodore Ellis, 30, of the Bronx assaulted the woman Sunday afternoon at the Jackson Avenue Station. Police released surveillance video early Tuesday asking the public for information on the suspect, and by the afternoon, he had been taken into custody, police said.
It was not immediately clear Wednesday whether Ellis has an attorney.
Data from the New York City Police Department shows that transit crime in the city has risen 54 percent over the past year — and 129 percent since the start of the pandemic — including a series of recent subway incidents.
While the current increase in no way compares to the violence that troubled the city in the 1970s, it still presents a challenge as the city tries to recover from the pandemic. A Spectrum News NY1/ Siena poll released Tuesday found that nearly 75% of people surveyed believe Mayor Eric Adams is doing a fair or poor job of fighting crime.
The surveillance video in Sunday’s attack shows a man wearing a white sleeveless shirt, dark baseball cap and red backpack approach a woman on the subway platform. He then wraps his arms around her and hurls her onto the train tracks. She is seen falling onto the pavement, then tumbling head first onto the tracks as the suspect walks away.
NBC4 New York reported that other people on the platform helped pull the woman to safety. No trains were approaching the station at that time, according to the news organization. It is unclear whether the suspect knew the woman or whether the two had exchanged words before the attack.
Christopher Herrmann, an assistant professor in the department of law and police science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said the majority of crimes like this one are considered random acts of violence; there is typically no altercation or argument between the offender and the victim before the incident.
“I think that’s what worries everybody. As a rider, it certainly worries me,” he said.
There have been several startling crimes on the New York City subway so far this year.
In January, a 40-year-old woman was shoved in front of an oncoming subway train at the Times Square station by a man with a history of violence and mental health issues.
In February, a woman had feces smeared on her face while waiting for a train in the Bronx. Days later, a researcher at the city’s Department of Health was robbed and repeatedly hit in the head with a hammer at a station in Queens, leaving her in critical condition.
In April, a gunman opened fire on a subway car in Brooklyn, leaving 10 passengers with nonfatal gunshot wounds. The next month, a gunman shot and killed a 48-year-old man on a train in Manhattan.
Considering that there are millions of riders on the New York City subway each day, violent attacks in stations and on trains are a very rare occurrence. “But we’ve had so many high-profile incidents over the past few months — almost all of them random attacks and almost all of them pretty bad — I think this is the reason that a lot of people are fearful about crime in the subway,” said Herrmann, a former crime analyst supervisor at the NYPD.
But Herrmann said that after each attack, authorities apprehended the suspects.
As for safety, he encourages people to be aware of their surroundings.