Broadway singing coach, 87, in critical condition after NYC sidewalk attack

Police in New York are searching for a woman suspected of shoving an 87-year-old singing coach from behind, sending her to the hospital in critical condition. (NYPD) (NYPD)
·2 min read

Police in New York City are searching for a woman who shoved a renowned 87-year-old singing coach from behind, sending her to the hospital in critical condition.

The New York Police Department released a video of the suspect, who was wearing a dark jacket and long white dress and had long rust-colored hair, at the time of the Thursday night attack.

Police said the suspect approached the victim near West 28th Street and 8th Avenue and pushed her from behind, causing her to fall and hit her head. The suspect fled toward 9th Avenue.

The grandson of the victim wrote on Facebook that his grandmother, Barbara Maier Gustern, had "suffered traumatic damage to the left side of her brain, and has been unconscious the entire time."

"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," wrote the grandson, who identified himself as AJ.

Gustern is fondly regarded in New York's theater community. She coached the cast of the 2019 Broadway revival of the musical "Oklahoma!," The New York Times reported. She also once coached rock singer Debbie Harry of the group Blondie.

Friends told the newspaper that Gustern was headed to Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater on Thursday to see one of her students perform.

A group rehearsing a cabaret show in her apartment earlier in the evening said they found Gustern outside her lobby door covered in blood. A bicyclist had helped her back to her building after the attack.

Earlier in the day, Gustern shared on Facebook that she had been feeling detached from her singing. But she was starting to feel better, she wrote, excited for that evening's rehearsal and an upcoming show at Don’t Tell Mama in Hell's Kitchen.

The next post on her page was the one from Gustern's grandson.

"I would ask not trying to visit her, it is an ongoing investigation and the police don’t want anybody but family visiting. And none of you want to see her like this, believe me," he wrote to her friends.

He added that he was "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," AJ wrote.