Anthonia Egegbara will be tried for attempted murder after pushing subway commuter Lenny Javier into the path of a moving train.
Officials arrested Egegbara on Tuesday, after surveillance footage showed her shove the 42-year-old Javier toward the subway tracks as a train approached on Monday morning, seemingly at random.
“I never thought it would happen to me,” Lenny Javier told reporters Wednesday. “My face is swollen, I have a broken nose, a fractured chin,” said the victim, who has been hospitalized.
The suspect, Anthonia Egegbara, has a history of violent crime, according to officials. Reports indicate the Queens resident had seven prior arrests. In three recent incidents, Egegbara was accused of “kicking and biting” other women on the subway.
Video footage of the attack showed Egegbara sitting on a nearby bench before quickly standing as the train approached. She can be seen appearing to violently shove Lenny Javier, who tumbled into the side of the subway car before falling to the ground. Anthonia Egegbara can then be seen briskly walking away, to the shock and surprise of onlookers.
“This unprovoked attack was senseless and absurd,” said Tim Minton, acting Chief Communications Officer of the city transit authority. “The city needs to provide additional mental health services to assist those who may endanger themselves and others. The NYPD’s rapid identification and arrest in this case makes riders safer.”
According to court records, Anthonia Egegbara — who lists her address as a women’s shelter in Queens — is the subject of several pending criminal cases in New York, including a charge for harassment and assault stemming from an incident on July 5.
The suspect was reportedly silent as she was arrested on Tuesday, apprehended by police in the same subway station where police say she attacked Lenny Javier. Anthonia Egegbara appeared before a judge on Wednesday for her arraignment, and her bail has reportedly been set at $100,000.
Lenny Javier is expected to make a full recovery.
A History of Mental Illness
Anthonia Egegbara’s mother Dedria Gregg told CBS 2 that her daughter suffers from mental illness, and has been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
“I feel so sorry for the woman that got pushed in the subway. I am so sorry,” Gregg told reporters. “We all cried when we saw that video. The whole family is distressed and upset about this.”
Egegbara’s mother said her daughter has been hospitalized more than 50 times, and that the family often struggles to get her to take the medicine she is prescribed.
“She really needs an institution, a place that can keep her safe and away from violence or violent behaviors,” said Anthonia’s sister Nancy Egegbara. “I’m not condoning. What she did was wrong, but what she did stems from her mental illness.”
While Anthonia Egegbara’s family argues that she needs a psychological evaluation before criminal proceedings start, her has attorney reportedly has not asked the court to do so.
Underground Crime on the Rise
The harrowing incident comes amid a steep rise in transit crime for New York City — one report indicates that criminal activity on the city’s subway was up by 59 percent in the month of September.
“This is like what it used to be like in the 80s,” said one eyewitness to the attack.
“It would be nicer if we saw more police on the platforms because I think then that would eliminate some of the problems we do see,” another commuter told CBS 2.
Charlton D’Souz, who leads the transit safety advocacy group Passengers United, called on New York Governor Kathy Hochul to send “100 to 200 state troopers” and “100 national guardsmen” to the city’s subway stations.
For his part, Mayor Bill DeBlasio said an increase in MTA officers would be sufficient to stem the rising tide of crime. “I would caution against other forces coming in, because the environment here is very different than what state police or National Guard are trained for,” the mayor argued.