One murder in early December was shocking. But when a second New Yorker was pushed in front of a train and killed in the same month, a frightening trend seemed to emerge. In both cases, the killers were suspected of being mentally ill — which, in light of the Sandy Hook school shootings, suggests an even bigger trend.
But as with school shootings, technology may not offer an easy solution for preventing subway killings — beyond capturing gruesome photos published after the fact.
"I don't think this is something that could be solved by spending more money…in the subway system," said Joseph Lhota, chairman of the city's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) at a press conference where he introduced the MTA's new realtime train-schedule app.
"I do know that we do have emotionally disturbed people in the city. I do know that we don't have the ability to prevent them from going onto the subway system," he said.
Instead, Lhota proposed commonsense tips: don't stand near the edge of the platform, and pay attention to other people in the station. "If you see anybody reacting erratically…dial 911 immediately," said Lhota.
That could have worked in the second killing, which happened at an aboveground train station in Queens on Thursday night, Dec. 27. But the earlier killing of Ki-Suck Han on Dec. 3 happened in an underground station. Most of those stations do not have cellular service, although the MTA has plans to get the whole system online in the coming years.
That's one tech fix that could help.