An events planner has been arrested on manslaughter charges over the fatal shove that killed renowned Broadway voice coach Barbara Gustern as she waited for a taxi.
Lauren Pazienza, 26, of Port Jefferson, New York, was accompanied by her lawyer as she surrendered to police on Tuesday, according to the NYPD.
Ms Gustern, 87, a well-known voice coach, died after being shoved from behind and hitting her head on the pavement as she hailed a taxi near her apartment in the Chelsea area of the city.
She was on her way to watch a student perform when she was assaulted.
She was initially conscious after the 10 March attack, and according to The New York Times told a friend at the scene, “I’ve never been hit so hard in my life.”
Ms Gustern also reportedly told police that her attacker “shouted a derogatory term before assaulting her,” though authorities have not made public details of what was said.
Investigators do not believe Ms Pazienza and Ms Gustern knew each other, and have called the shoving an unprovoked attack.
Following the assault, Ms Gustern was then taken to Bellvue Hospital, where she ultimately succumbed to her injuries five days later.
Her grandson wrote on Facebook that she had suffered “traumatic damage to the left side of her brain.”
Ms Gustern had worked with the likes of Diamanda Galás, Blondie’s Debbie Harry, and the cast of Daniel Fish’s 2019 Broadway revival of Oklahoma!
Ms Pazienza, is being represented by New York City-based attorney Arthur Aidala, turned herself in at NYPD’s 10th precinct and was expected to appear before a judge on Tuesday afternoon.
“What they have is a photo of someone who looks like my client getting on the subway. This attack did not happen on the subway,” her lawyer said on Tuesday.
Photos and video of the suspect were widely circulated by NYPD Crime Stoppers over the last week.
Ms Gustern’s funeral is scheduled for 26 March at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighbourhood, where she was a a frequent volunteer at the church’s soup kitchen.
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