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Suspect In NYC Shoving Attack Hid & Watched As 87-Year-Old Victim Sought Help Before Fleeing To Parents House

Photo: Facebook / Twitter
Lauren Pazienza, Barbara Maier Gustern

The New York woman who was arrested and charged in the death of a respected vocal coach reportedly waited around to watch the aftermath of her alleged crime.

After 12 days on the run, Lauren Pazienza, 26, had turned herself in to the New York City police for the shoving death of Barbara Maier Gustern, a Broadway singing coach, an unprovoked attack that resulted in the 87-year-old woman's death.

Lauren Pazienza and her fiancé allegedly watched as Barbara Maier Gustern was taken away by ambulance.

The assault had been caught on video surveillance, showing Pazienza's face, which was widely shared by NYPD Crime Stoppers after Gustern's death was declared a homicide investigation.

Gustern had been steps away from her home when police say she was attacked by Pazienza. The 26-year-old had crossed the street and cursed at Gustern before shoving her to the ground, where the vocal coach then hit her head on the sidewalk. 

The woman was left bleeding on the sidewalk before a witness helped her into the lobby of her building, where she recalled the incident, telling authorities that the push was "as hard as she had ever been hit in her life." Gustern later lost consciousness at the hospital.

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She had suffered traumatic brain damage from which she would not have recovered from even if she'd survived. Gustern ended up dying five days after the attack.

Security footage showed Pazienza leaving the scene as Gustern lay bleeding, and had been captured on video nearby engaging in a physical altercation with a man believed to be her fiancé, and was later seen watching the ambulance arrive at the spot where she had shoved Gustern.

Lauren Pazienza allegedly then fled NYC and hid from the police.

Following the attack, Pazienza had deleted all of her social media accounts, stopped using her cellphone, and had deleted her wedding website, choosing to hide out at her parents home in an effort to avoid the police.

Pazienza and her fiancé, who are still together and were supposed to be married in June, were then captured on surveillance leaving Manhatten at Penn Station, and detectives were able to track the couple back to their home in Astoria.

Video footage from about an hour and a half after the attack showed Pazienza, who was wearing the same clothes as the woman seen shoving Gustern to the ground, and her fiancé enter their building. 

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After police had released a photo of Pazienza, an anonymous tip came in, leading authorities to her parents' home in Long Island. The woman's father told police that Pazienza wasn't there, and after her lawyer contacted authorities and arranged for her surrender.

Lauren Pazienza's attorney is already lining up a defense for his client.

Pazienza's attorney told police that the push could have been accidental. "Whether it was a push, a shove, or whether it was a kick or someone was tripped — the evidence is not very solid on that at all."

Gustern's grandson told NBC New York that he was "pleased" with Pazienza's arrest, saying that it has given him a "sense of closure." 

"She was a force of nature. I called her a little star. Tiny ball of energy building community everywhere she went," AJ Gustern said. "To whoever did do this I’m still praying for you and the karmic wave that you’ve taken on is incredible. So God help you."

According to The New York Times, Gustern had been an acclaimed singing coach who helped train singer Debbie Harry and the cast of the 2019 Broadway revival of the musical "Oklahoma!" Gustern was used to perform on Broadway herself, along with her late husband.

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.