NEW YORK (AP) — A man accused of shoving a stranger in front of a New York subway train was expected to make court appearance Wednesday on a murder charge.
Kevin Darden, who has a history of arrests for assault and robbery, was picked up by detectives Tuesday near his mother's home in the Bronx. Police said he had been busted for pickpocketing on Nov. 9 — one week before authorities say he pushed Wai Kuen Kwok off a subway platform in front of a train.
Charges against Darden also are pending in a separate subway station encounter earlier this month, police said. In that case, a man was pushed to the ground at another station and suffered minor injuries.
Police didn't release a home address for Darden, 34, and it wasn't clear if he had a lawyer.
Kwok was standing with his wife on a platform at the Grand Concourse and East 167th Street station in the Bronx on Sunday when a man pushed him from behind. Kwok, 61, was struck by an approaching D train and died at the scene. His wife wasn't injured.
There was no indication that Kwok knew the man or had had any interaction with him before he was pushed, police said. His wife said she did not recognize the man.
The train's motorman, James Muriel, told CBS New York that he hit the brakes while the victim was still airborne, but it was no use. "We could feel the bumps underneath the train," he said.
Muriel said he was crying as he went to check on the victim and needed help getting out of his cab because his legs were numb.
"The victim's wife, she threw herself on me and she began to cry hysterically," Muriel told NBC New York. "Everybody just began to cry. ... Women, grown men, just everybody."
The man fled the station and two minutes later hopped on a bus with other people who had been on the platform at the time of the push and unknowingly discussed it while he was nearby, police said.
Surveillance footage shows the man walking calmly from the subway station. Later footage shows him getting off a bus 10 blocks away, heading into a convenience store and then emerging smoking a cigarette.
The victim's wife was taken to a hospital for observation. Relatives told authorities Kwok worked for a kitchen supply company and the couple was planning to have breakfast and do grocery shopping in Chinatown on Sunday.
There were at least two other cases in recent years that involved a person being fatally pushed onto subway tracks.
In December 2012, a homeless man was arrested after a man was pushed in front of a Times Square train that crushed him. A photographer on the platform snapped a series of photos of the man as he was about to be struck, prompting criticism that he instead should have tried to help him.
Later that month, a mumbling woman pushed a man to his death in front of a subway train in Queens.
For Muriel, the motorman, the death was a nightmarish rewind. He previously was driving a train that hit a suicidal man.
"The last time I went through this, I looked at the gentleman's face," said Muriel. "When I'm at the movie theater, when I'm food shopping, when I'm at the mall, I always see somebody that looks like the last victim."
About 5 million people ride the subway every day in New York City. Every year, about 140 people are hit by city subway trains, many of them in accidental knocks and willful leaps. Fifty people have been killed by subway trains this year, and 55 died last year, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said.