Hundreds of mourners joined Mayor Adams, activists and friends in Times Square Tuesday night to pay tearful tribute to subway shove victim Michelle Alyssa Go, with those who knew her best recalling the indelible impact she made with her selfless efforts to help the homeless and those less fortunate.
“One of the things that’s still hard for me to do is to refer to her in a past tense,” said longtime friend Kim Burnett.
“I can’t express for you to you how much knowing and losing Michelle will have an impact on me. I never thought I would have to face these things but I am grateful she let me stick around and wedge my way into her life. I am better for it,” she said, her voice breaking.
A large cartoon image of Go was displayed on the side of a building overlooking Father Duffy Square, along with smaller images of victims of anti-Asian violence.
The 40-year-old senior manager for Deloitte Consulting was waiting for a train at the Times Square station at 9:30 a.m. Saturday when Simon Martial, 61, shoved her into the path of an R train, cops said.
Martial, a homeless man with a history of mental illness, randomly targeted Go, after trying to push another woman who escaped his grasp, police said. Cops have found no indication he targeted Go because of her race, and may not have known she was Asian because her face was obscured by the hoodie she wore that morning, police sources said.
Rakesh Duggal, Go’s friend of about 13 years, talked about their shared love of pate and brie cheese, and described her as “a glass-ceiling breaker.”
“She was a caring person with a big heart,” Duggal said. “Many of you have read about her volunteering and community actions around the city. Those of us who knew her personally, we always saw her as a rock who would drop everything to help her friends.”
Burnett said over the years, she became familiar with Go’s caring personality and how devoted she was to keeping in touch with her friends.
“I learned how long she would stay on the phone with her family catching up with them and checking on how they were doing,” she said. “I learned that she loved documentaries and continuing to learn new things. I learned that she wanted her friends to be happy and live their best lives.”
Martial remained hospitalized in Bellevue Hospital Tuesday; court officials said they expect him to appear before a Manhattan Criminal Court judge during a video arraignment Wednesday.
Adams said he’s directed law enforcement officials to meet with mental health professionals “to identify those who are in need and give them the services immediately.”
“The death of Michelle ripped at my heart, to see what has happened to her and to see what has happened to our city,” Adams said at the vigil.
Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) said Go’s death and similar crimes have left the city’s residents, and the Asian American community “terrified to walk the streets, terrified to go to the grocery store, to take the subways to leave their homes.”
“This is a complicated problem,” she said. “The roots are deep, deeply rooted in poverty and racism, and we will not find an answer by simple talking points, or just blaming people and pointing fingers.”