A man suspected of pushing 61-year-old Wai Kuen Kwok onto the subway tracks to his death in the Bronx on Sunday has been identified, arrested, and charged with murder. Just hours after a second surveillance footage video of the suspect shot from inside a Bronx area bodega was released to the public, 34-year-old Kevin Darden was arrested near his mother’s home in the Bronx.
Witnesses say a man matching the description of the suspect was seen leaving the 167th street subway station minutes after Kwok’s death to board a Bx35 bus. Police subsequently identified Darden as a person of interest based on his connection to a November 6th shoving incident at the West 4th subway station where another man, also Asian, was pushed to the subway platform; based on the similarities of the crime and the suspects’ physical descriptions, police privately began a search for Darden under suspicion that he might also be responsible for Sunday’s murder.
In the earlier incident, the victim says he was shoved from behind by Darden, who said, “you shouldn’t walk in front of me… I’m warning you.” Prior to Sunday morning, no probable cause existed to arrest Darden for the November 6th incident.
Darden has a lengthy criminal record mostly involving petty theft — although he was once arrested for attempted arson of his family’s property but never charged (Update: The New York Times has uncovered Darden’s criminal history and notes that while most charges involve theft and marijuana possession, more serious charges include assault and domestic violence as well as the dropped charges relating to the arson attempt). His mother says that he is currently homeless. Upon his arrest, Darden was charged with Kwok’s murder; it is currently unclear whether or not he has an attorney.
No motives are currently known for Darden’s alleged attack on Kwok, or his alleged earlier attack on an Asian American subway rider earlier in the month. However, if found guilty, this pattern of behaviour certainly suggests that Darden might have been racially targeting his victims, and begs the larger question as to why the last three subway shoving deaths in New York City have all involved Asian American male victims.