A 24-year-old homeless man of Indian origin has been arrested and charged with attempted murder after pushing a woman onto the subway tracks as a train entered the station. Aditya Vemulapati was arrested and charged with attempted murder, reckless endangerment, attempted first-degree assault, and second-degree assault, according to a criminal complaint filed by Manhattan prosecutors.
A report in NBC News said that a judge ordered Vemulapati’s detention until December 4. Video footage from the station showed Vemulapati at a Union Square metro station, pushing Liliana Llanos as the incoming train pulled into the station. Llanos miraculously escaped and suffered only minor injuries. She fell between two tracks and narrowly missed the impact of the train as it passed early in the morning Thursday.
Vemulapati was taken into custody at the scene, police said. The report states that Llanos was wearing headphones and listening to passages from the Bible. Witnesses say she was waiting for the train when Vemulapati approached her, appearing to be talking to himself. From the footage, it appeared that he had timed the push just as an incoming train approached the station and pushed it without saying a word, the report added.
“It’s very disturbing. We see him waiting, calculating that the train is approaching the station and in due course he pushed the victim onto the tracks, ”said Kathleen O’Reilly, NYPD transit chief. “Fortunately for her she fell between the rolling bed and the rails and, by the grace of God, suffered only minor injuries,” said O’Reilly.
After pushing the woman, Vemulapati saw the police approaching and lay down on the platform. Police say Vemulapati is emotionally disturbed. Llanos, who was taken to hospital, suffered minor cuts to her head and body. Her husband was grateful that he was able to return to their apartment in Sunset Park, saying that she “had a new life today”. The NBC report added that the incident marked the second subway push arrest made on Thursday. Another man was taken into custody after police said they pushed a UPS employee into the lanes of 42nd Street Bryant Park Station on Wednesday evening. Police said Justin Pena attacked the victim after the man refused to give him money.
The incident led the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to draw attention to mental health issues in the city that are rippling through subway platforms. “This needs to be fixed, and I am desperate that this or the next mayor will take care of it,” said MTA president Sarah Feinberg. “This city has a mental health crisis, we have people in this city who are in desperate need of mental health care,” Feinberg said.