Lauren Pazienza​, woman charged in death of 87-year-old singing coach Barbara Gustern, was upset before fatal shove, prosecutor says

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NEW YORK (MDAO) – Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr., Tuesday announced the indictment of Lauren Pazienza, 26, for fatally pushing 87-year-old Barbara Gustern onto the ground in Chelsea on March 10, 2022. Pazienza is charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with Manslaughter in the First Degree and Assault in the Second Degree.

“This was a senseless and unprovoked attack,” said District Attorney Bragg. “Barbara Gustern was a beloved vocal coach who lived a vibrant and active life at the age of 87, and her loss was felt deeply by many throughout the city. After allegedly walking away from Ms. Gustern as she laid on the ground bleeding, Lauren Pazienza went to great lengths to avoid accountability for her actions.”

According to court documents and statements made on the record in court, at approximately 8:30 p.m. on March 10th on West 28th Street, Pazienza crossed the street, shouted obscenities at Ms. Gustern and then intentionally shoved her to the ground. Ms. Gustern then fell in an arc directly on her head, causing a massive hemorrhage to the left side of her brain. Pazienza then walked away and left Ms. Gustern on the ground bleeding from her head. Eyewitnesses eventually called EMS and Ms. Gustern was rushed to the hospital, where she became unconscious. She died five days later after she was removed from life support.

After the attack, Pazienza stayed in the area for approximately 20 minutes, where video footage shows her having a physical altercation with her fiancé and watching the ambulance arrive at the scene. Pazienza then entered Penn Station with her fiancé, where they took the subway back to their apartment in Astoria, Queens. Pazienza subsequently admitted to her fiancé later that evening that she pushed Ms. Gustern. Pazienza deleted her social media accounts and took down her wedding website. She eventually fled to Long Island to stay with family.

Assistant D.A.’s Justin McNabney, Emily Farber and Investigative Analyst Janine Nassar are handling the prosecution of under the supervision of Executive Assistant D.A. Joyce Smith (Chief of the Trial Division).

D.A. Bragg thanked Detective Roger Ali of the 10th Precinct and Detective Teresa Cota of Manhattan South Homicide.

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