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Michelle Go's Death At Times Square Subway Station Ratchets Up Pressure To Reduce Transit Crime

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Hundreds attended a candlelight vigil Tuesday in Times Square to remember Michelle Go, the woman killed in Saturday's subway shoving incident.

The 40-year-old lived on the Upper West Side and worked in the financial industry. She was also an avid volunteer who helped at-risk families.

"It's a tragic loss of life of someone who was giving back to the New York City community," said Dayna Cassidy, president of the New York Junior League, where Go volunteered for the last 10 years.

Police said 61-year-old Martial Simon pushed Go in front of a train on Saturday morning.

"Just seconds, the train passed, the impact, and she went right in front of it, and then you saw her disappear from the tracks," witness Maria Coste-Weber told CBS2's Kiran Dhillon in an exclusive interview.

Simon was charged with second-degree murder and is awaiting arraignment.

Go's death is renewing pressure and calls to address crime on the subways, CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported.

Tuesday marked either a change in rhetoric or a change of heart for Mayor Eric Adams.

"We're going to drive down crime and make sure New Yorkers feel safe in the subway system. And they don't feel that way now. I don't feel that way when I take the train every day," Adams said.

Watch Aundrea Cline-Thomas' report -- 

Adams said there was only a perceived lack of safety in the transit system, but with Go's brutal death he's now deeming real.

It's an assertion the Metropolitan Transportation Authority wants to qualify.

"He's sensitive to the way New Yorkers are feeling, that it's not people don't feel based on statistics. They feel based on their personal experience and what they are hearing," Acting MTA Chaiman and CEO Janno Lieber said.

According to the NYPD, while overall subway crime is down from pre-pandemic levels, transit crime is up 41% over the last month and up 65% so far this year. There were 30 subway shoving incidents in 2021, compared to 26 the year before.

The re-deployment of officers to trains and platforms, along with social workers addressing homelessness and mental illness, are all part of the recent strategy to address crime.

"I hope that we can get those people services quicker, in greater numbers and faster, so they can get out of the system and people can feel that is a change," Lieber said.

The man arrested in Go's death is homeless and has prior incidents for being emotionally disturbed.

"Most homeless people are not violent and most people with mental illness are not violent," said Jacquelyn Simone of the Coalition for the Homeless.

Simone said more resources and not additional officers are needed.

"Right now, we have a dearth of permanent and supportive housing. We have a dearth of inpatient psychiatric beds for people who need them," Simone said.

The Coalition for the Homeless is calling on city and state leaders to fast track efforts to expand services, it says to fully address the problem.

Go's family has asked that people remember how she lived and not just focused on how she died.

As CBS2's Ali Bauman reports, hundreds of people joined together in Times Square on Tuesday night, solemn and pained, but determined to ensure Go did not die in vain.

Friends and family remembered her for her open heart and intrepid spirit.

"The way we carry out Michelle's legacy is not just here on one night with candles and kind words but in our actions. We need to make sure that we are working to demand equity and justice and answers," Congresswoman Grace Meng said.

"We have a right to feel safe in our streets and in our subways," said Ben Wei, with Asians Fighting Injustice.

"She traveled and took chances and she showed me what it means to live life to its fullest," friend Kim Garnett said.

"Those of us who knew her personally, we always saw her as a rock who would drop everything to help her friends," friend Rakesh Duggal said.

"What does make me happy is that I know Michelle lived her life to fullest. Michelle, we will miss you deeply but know that you will always be in our hearts and memories," friend Louise Chang said.

Even strangers came clutching flowers and candles.

"I felt compelled to come here because I saw myself in Michelle," said Melody Lam, of Washington Heights.

"I just wanted to come here to support the other people who might also be going through those worries and fears," said Zoe Liu, of West Harlem.

"She cared about civic duty and we want to honor her legacy," Wei said.

The mayor spoke at the vigil about his plans for addressing mental health, homelessness and crime in transit, hours after backpedaling his words on subway safety.

"We need to put our money where our mouth is. We need to see our budgets at city, state and federal level, making sure that we're investing in real mental health resources," Meng said.

Her friends lovingly noted that Go hated being in the spotlight and probably would have been mortified at the idea of so many people waxing poetic about her in Times Square.

But coming together was a small step in processing the loss of a woman who touched so many lives.

CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas contributed to this report. Editor's note: This story first appeared on Jan. 18.

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