Pazienza is expected to appear in court as early as Tuesday afternoon. Her exact charges are unknown, but NYPD officers are treating Barbara Gustern’s death as a homicide. According to reports, Lauren Pazienza turned herself in to police and has a lawyer to represent her.
The fatal shoving of Barbara Gustern happened on March 10. The beloved Broadway singing coach died four days after she got attacked. According to police, Gustern was walking to a cab outside her Chelsea apartment when she was shoved to the ground. The attack happened around 8:30 p.m. and the 87-year-old hit her head on the ground.
A nearby bicyclist helped Gustern back to her West 28th Street apartment building and friends of hers were able to call 911 for the injured vocal coach. She allegedly told her friend Barbara Bleier, “I’ve never been hit so hard in my life,” while the pair waited for emergency personnel.
Barbara Gustern suffered a brain injury and was in a coma during her hospital stay. Doctors were able to perform surgery to remove some of the swelling, but the doctor said that the 87-year-old didn’t recover well after the operation.
During her time at the hospital, her grandson AJ, posted about her condition. He said, “She has suffered traumatic damage to the left side of her brain and has been unconscious the entire time. She is intubated and we are unclear how much she is able to breathe on her own. Should she awake, she will most likely suffer speech problems and may be unable to move her right side. It is a very serious injury.”
He added, “I apologize if it takes me awhile to respond, but I am incomprehensibly broken inside. I struggle to understand and cope with this world on a daily basis, and frankly this is beyond my ability to bear. Do what you can for your fellow human being, no matter how small. Make the time. Preventing needless loss and violence like this starts with us as individuals. We must care more for each other.”
Barbara Gustern’s family has not commented on Lauren Pazienza’s arrest. A funeral for the vocal coach is scheduled for March 26.
NYPD officers originally didn’t know the identity of Barbara Gustern’s attacker. She was described as a young woman with long, auburn hair, and security footage released by police was able to identify her as Lauren Pazienza.
During a press conference, NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig called the attack a “disgusting and disgraceful offence.” He said, “That’s horrific. An 87-year-old woman, just walking down the street, knocked to the ground.”
Lauren Pazienza surrendered herself two weeks after fatally shoving the voice coach. A motive for the crime is unknown, and police are unsure if the two women knew each other before the tragic death. A deactivated LinkedIn page listed Pazienza as a communications & events coordinator for Roche Bobois furniture store.
The young woman reportedly lives in an Astoria home with her fiancé. Her parents live in Port Jefferson, Long Island. Neither her fiancé nor her parents has commented on her arrest or crime.
New York City has seen a rise in violence since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and especially in the first three months of 2022. Many are worried that city is becoming dangerous. Mayor Eric Adams is working to combat the rise in violent crime.
The mayor recently set up a new program called NYPD’s Neighborhood Safety Teams. The program’s main goal is to combat gun violence on the streets of New York. The mayor said, “It’s six days since we launched this program with the Police Commissioner’s leadership. We have made 31 arrests and 10 guns removed from our streets, six days, more than a gun a day was removed from our streets.”