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Man pushed to death in NYC subway
Victim photographed before being struck on tracks
NEW YORK — A homeless man was arrested Wednesday in the death of a subway rider who was pushed onto the tracks and photographed just before a train struck him.
Naeem Davis, 30, was taken in for questioning Tuesday after security video showed a man fitting the suspect’s description working with street vendors near Rockefeller Center. Police said Mr. Davis made statements implicating himself in Ki-Suck Han’s death.
Mr. Davis was arrested on a second-degree murder charge. He was in custody, and it wasn’t clear if he had a lawyer. It also wasn’t clear when he would appear in court. He has several prior arrests in New York and Pennsylvania on mostly minor charges including drug possession.
Witnesses told investigators they saw a man talking to himself Monday afternoon before he approached Mr. Han, 58, of Queens at the Times Square station, got into an altercation with him and pushed him into the train’s path.
The New York Post published a photo on its front page Tuesday of Mr. Han with his head turned toward the train, his arms reaching up but unable to climb off the tracks in time. It was shot by freelance photographer R. Umar Abbasi, who was waiting to catch a train.
He said he was shocked that people nearer to the victim didn’t try to help in the 22 seconds before the train struck.
“It took me a second to figure out what was happening. … I saw the lights in the distance. My mind was to alert the train,” Mr. Abbasi said.
“The people who were standing close to him … they could have moved and grabbed him and pulled him up. No one made an effort,” he added.
Trains generally arrive at the stations going 25 mph, but it’s not clear how fast the train was going when it struck Mr. Han. The waiting area is a narrower than other subway stations, but the platform is still about a dozen feet wide.
In a written account Mr. Abbasi gave the Post, he said a crowd took videos and snapped photos on their cellphones after Mr. Han was pulled, limp, onto the platform. He said he shoved them back as a doctor and another man tried to resuscitate the victim, but it was no use. The man died in front of Mr. Abbasi’s eyes.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said Tuesday that it appeared the suspect in Mr. Han’s death had “a psychiatric problem.”
The mayor said Mr. Han, “if I understand it, tried to break up a fight or something and paid for it with his life.”
Subway pushes are feared but fairly unusual. Among the more high-profile cases was the January 1999 death of Kendra Webdale, who was shoved to her death by a former mental patient.
Straphangers on Wednesday said that they were shocked by Mr. Han’s death but that it’s always a silent fear for many of the more than 5.2 million commuters who ride the subway on an average weekday.
AP writers Verena Dobnik, Karen Matthews and Tom Hays contributed to this story.
By Brahma Chellaney
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