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Police: Subway Shove Victim Is Transgender, Incident May Be Hate Crime

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Straphangers were taking extra caution on the subway Wednesday night, after a transgender woman was pushed onto the tracks at the Bleecker Street subway station in NoHo in what may be a hate crime.

Police are hoping surveillance video leads them to the suspect who pushed the woman onto the tracks.

The 28-year-old victim was on the platform waiting for the southbound No. 6 train when a man acting erratically walked up to her around 9 a.m. Monday, police said.

As CBS2's Tony Aiello reported, video shows a strange-acting man in a light blue shirt and khakis reach into a trash drum and pull out a plastic bottle. This happened after he said, "What are you looking at?" to the woman, police said.

After throwing the bottle, the suspect pushed the victim from the platform onto the tracks, police said.

Good Samaritans pulled her to safety before a train reached the station.

The suspect then ran off toward the stairs near the D Train as a group of good Samaritans helped pull the victim from the tracks and back onto the platform, CBS2's Janelle Burrell reported.

"When I hear about something like that, it just really, really disappoints me that anybody would think to behave that way," said straphanger Mark Kaplan.

The victim suffered cuts, bruises and broken teeth, and was rushed to Bellevue Hospital Center, where she was treated and released, police said.

If the No. 6 train had been arriving at the time, the incident could have ended tragically, Burrell reported.

Police are treating the incident as a possible bias attack because the victim is transgender.

She lives uptown with her grandmother, but they would not answer the door when CBS2 buzzed the intercom.

Meanwhile, police have made an all-out press to catch the suspect, who may be carrying a distinctive red bag, CBS2's Dave Carlin reported.

A Level One Mobilization was called earlier Wednesday at Waverly Place and Sixth Avenue in Greenwich Village, near the West 4th Street subway station.

A tipster reported seeing the suspect and a man was detained, but police quickly determined he was not the perpetrator.

Straphangers said they are relieved the woman was saved and are now being extra cautious.

Subway Shove Victim Is Transgender, Incident May Be Hate Crime

"It's a roll of the dice. I mean, there's crazy people everywhere," Gil Velasquez, of Jackson Heights, Queens, told Burrell.

"It's scary. I mean, what would go through someone's mind to do that?" said Stacy Steven, of Stapleton, Staten Island. "I mean, you just never know who or what you're dealing with, or who you're going to run into."

"That's terrible," Greenwich Village resident Brian Denes said. "You kind of take stuff like that for granted, you know. I take this subway to work every day."

"It's sad, because it could've been anybody's mother or sister," subway rider Vito told 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck. "You can't rely on the cops for everything because they're not there all the time. This is a city of 8 million-plus people, there's not 8 million-plus cops."

Police: Subway Shove Victim Is Transgender, Incident May Be Hate Crime

Getting shoved onto the tracks is a fear many subway riders have.

"Even slipping; I mean I think extra caution is important, especially in the city where you don't know what's gonna come at you out of no where," one man told 1010 WINS' Carol D'Auria.

"I'm very afraid of the edge (of the platform). Very. Very." said Samantha Blackwell, of East Harlem. "I never, ever stand next to it."

"This is an easy spot around here to snatch somebody and mug them, take their pocketbook," a man named Lou said. "They should have police undercover on every platform."

"I think you have to always be on the lookout for things that make you feel unsafe," said Karyn Nesbit, of Williamsburg, Brooklyn."

On the same day, in the evening, a Swedish tourist was slashed by a stranger while on an A train in Brooklyn. That suspect was caught.

So far this year, felony assaults on the subway are up 26.9 percent. But that represents just 99 so far this year, compared with 78 in 2014.

The system carries 6 million riders each and every day.

Anyone with information in the shoving incident was asked to call the NYPD Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS, log onto the Crime Stoppers website, or text tips to 274637 (CRIMES) and enter TIP577.

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