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The death of a famous New York City vocal coach who fell and hit her head after being pushed during an unprovoked assault has been classified as murder as the manhunt for the suspect continues, police said Monday.
Barbara Gustern died Tuesday, more than two weeks after a woman approached her from behind and pushed her just before 8:30 p.m. March 10, the New York Police Department (NYPD) said. Police said Monday they are now treating her death as murder.
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Gustern, 87, was located near West 28th Street and Eighth Avenue, less than a block from her Manhattan home.
The push caused her to fall and hit her head, leaving her with critical injuries, police said. Gustern was rushed to a nearby hospital but ultimately could not be rescued.
James Essig, NYPD Chief of Investigation, called the attack “an unprovoked, senseless attack” and a “disgusting and disgraceful offense.”
“That is appalling. An 87-year-old woman, who was just walking down the street, was knocked to the ground,” Essig said at a press conference last week.
Gustern was a longtime singing coach who worked with Broadway casts and music stars, including “Blondie” singer Debbie Harry, according to the New York Times.
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After the attack, Gustern is said to have told a friend, “I’ve never been hit so hard in my life.”
Police released new photos Friday of a woman they are seeking for questioning in connection with the attack.
Investigators described the woman with long, “dark-colored hair” and said she was last seen wearing “a black jacket, black leggings, white skirt (possibly a dress) and dark-colored shoes.”
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Police are asking anyone with information about the incident to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).