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Who is Lauren Pazienza? Meet the suspect that killed 87-year-old singing coach

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Lauren Pazienza
Lauren Pazienza

Police have arrested a suspect in the shoving attack that killed Barbara Gustern, 87, a beloved singing coach in New York City.

The suspect is 26-year-old Lauren Pazienza. The New York Police Department says the young woman turned herself in on 22 March, about two weeks after the assault. She has been charged with manslaughter but is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Who is Lauren Pazienza? Meet the suspect that killed 87-year-old singing coach

On the evening of 10 March, Ms Gustern was remaining at the intersection of West 28th Street and eighth Avenue in Chelsea, Manhattan, not a long way from her apartment complex.

She was trusting that a taxi will take more time to Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater, The New York Times has revealed, where an understudy of hers was performing.

At around 9.30pm, somebody moved toward Ms Gustern from behind and pushed her viciously to the ground. Ms Gustern hit her head on the asphalt, leaving a draining cut.

“I’ve never been hit so hard in my life,” she told a friend as she waited for police and medics to arrive.

Before she lost consciousness, Ms Gustern managed to describe her attacker to police, and told them the woman shouted a derogatory word before pushing her.

She was then taken to a hospital, where she was treated for what her grandson called “traumatic damage to the left side of her brain”. Her condition deteriorated, and she died on 15 March.

Police say Ms Pazienza is from Port Jefferson, Long Island. NYPD sources told the New York Post she likewise has a location in Astoria, Queens, where she resides with her life partner.

According to a now-deactivated LinkedIn account, Ms Pazienza was a communications and events coordinator at the furniture retailer Roche Bobois. The company says she no longer works there.

“Lauren Pazienza resigned from her role at Roche Bobois in December 2021, and the company has no additional comments at this time,” a spokesperson for Roche Bobois told The Independent.

On Tuesday, as Ms Pazienza was escorted by police to criminal court, she kept her face hidden beneath her long, red hair. As reporters lobbed questions at her – including “Why’d you do it?” and “Why did you attack her?” – she stayed silent.

Ms Pazienza is being represented by Arthur Aidala, the managing partner of the law firm Aidala Bertuna & Kamins. So far, Mr Aidala has made few public comments about the case, except to say that the photo the NYPD has released of the suspect is not necessarily incriminating.

“What they have is a photo of someone who looks like my client getting on the subway,” the lawyer told the Daily Mail on Tuesday. “This attack did not happen on the subway.”

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