A suspect in the death of Broadway singing coach Barbara Maier Gustern is in police custody and was charged with manslaughter. Lauren Pazienza, 26, of Port Jefferson, Long Island, New York, turned herself in to New York police today.
Pazienza is awaiting arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court. Pazienza, reportedly accompanied by an attorney, surrendered herself at the NYPD’s 10th Precinct in the Chelsea neighborhood where the attack took place. Police do not believe Pazienza and Gustern were acquainted, and have called the shoving random and unprovoked.
The news comes just a day after New York police classified Gustern’s death a homicide. Gustern, 87, was heading toward a cab outside her Chelsea apartment on the evening of March 10 when she was pushed to the ground from behind. Gustern suffered severe head trauma and soon went into a coma. She died at New York’s Bellevue Hospital five days after the attack without regaining consciousness.
Photos and video of the assailant, now believed to be Pazienza, were widely circulated by NYPD Crime Stoppers over the last week.
Although originally from Long Island, Pazienza’s more recent address is in Astoria, Queens.
Gustern, a singer and vocal coach whose students included Blondie’s Debbie Harry, avant-garde performer Diamanda Galas and the cast of Daniel Fish’s acclaimed 2019 Broadway revival of Oklahoma!, was a longtime fixture on the downtown cabaret scene. She was on her way to the Public Theater’s Joe’s Pub venue to watch the performance of a student on March 10 when she was shoved to the ground.
Gustern’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday, March 26 at 2 p.m. ET at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. Gustern was a frequent volunteer at the church’s soup kitchen.
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