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Woman, 86, dies after stranger punches her in Brooklyn hospital for violating social distancing norms

Janie Marshall was brutally attacked by Cassandra Lundy, 32, who was waiting for psychiatric treatment
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: An elderly woman, who was awaiting treatment at a Brooklyn hospital, died after she was punched by another patient for not maintaining social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic, police said.

According to the New York Post, the incident occurred when Janie Marshall, 86, of Williamsburg, had gone to the Emergency Room at the city-run Woodhull Medical Center on March 28 at 2 pm for bowel blockage.

Marshall is said to have innocently grabbed a metal stand in a hallway bed where, Cassandra Lundy, a 32-year-old patient who was awaiting psychiatric treatment, was sitting, causing the latter to respond violently.

Lundy reportedly got out of her nearby bed and launched an attack on the elderly woman because "she didn't stay more than 6 feet away."

The 86-year-old was knocked off her feet by the force of the punch and cracked her head on the floor. She was subsequently sent for a CT scan and was waiting for the examination when she was found slumped over at 5.40 pm. She was subsequently pronounced dead from her head injury.

When questioned, Lundy told a Health and Corp police officer that she punched Marshall because the elderly woman flouted social distancing guidelines. She was issued a summons for disorderly conduct by hospital police and then left the premises without being admitted.

The New York Police Department was not notified about the incident — which was caught on camera at the hospital — initially and only learned of it hours later at around 10.30 pm. Hospital sources said that the reason for the delay was because Woodhull, like many other medical centers in the city and the state, was swamped with patients who had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Neighbors of the 86-year-old at her apartment paid tribute to her as the news came in that she had been killed and revealed she was a longtime resident who had lived alone and did not have any children.

"She would always ask me if she could do something for me," said neighbor Eartha Calloway, 87.

Efrain Gomez, 70, said Marshall was a "very nice person" and said it was a "shame" she had died so suddenly. She also said the 86-year-old "looked much younger than she was."

"It’s sad," said Dealice Fuller, who chairs Brooklyn’s Community Board. "Something like that happens and you’d like the world to know that somebody contributed something."

Fuller shared that Marshall had played a key role in establishing the Sunshine Community Garden on McKibbin St. and Graham Ave., near her Williamsburg home in 1991. "She was able to get all the information and she came to me and she asked me to help get people to join the garden," she continued. "We were basically one of the first gardens in the district."

Police and prosecutors are now seeking to arrest Marshall's attacker, who reportedly has a record of 17 previous arrests, on upgraded charges. They are waiting for an autopsy to determine Marshall's cause of death.