Barbara Maier Gustern, a celebrated Broadway singing coach has died after a senseless attack.
Today, at 11:15 a.m., we have lost one of the brightest little flames to ever grace this world.
I ask that you all give me a little time and space, but I want to make time for anyone and everyone who wants to know more about her final moments.”
During a press conference this afternoon, Chief of Detectives James Essig called it an unprovoked and senseless attack.
A short time ago today, [Gustern] died from her injuries
We’re asking the public’s help in solving this disgusting and disgraceful offense committed against a vulnerable, elderly female who was doing nothing but walking down the streets of NYC.”
According to Gothamist,
The attack occurred just before 8:30 PM on March 10 as Gustern was walking near West 28th Street between 8th and 9th avenues, close to her apartment in Chelsea. Police told Gothamist that a female suspect shoved Gustern to the ground where she hit her head, then fled the scene.
Deadline reported that Gustern had been rehearsing an upcoming cabaret show in her apartment with collaborators Barbara Bleier, Paul Greenwood and actor/playwright Austin Pendleton on the night of the incident. She had left to go to Joe’s Pub for a performance by one of her students when she was shoved.
According to The New York Times, Gustern was awake initially after the attack, telling a friend at the scene,
I’ve never been hit so hard in my life.”
She also reportedly told police that her assailant
shouted a derogatory term before assaulting her.”
My beloved friend Barbara Maier Gustern was brutally assaulted while hailing a cab Thursday night in NYC at 8th Ave & W 28th by the woman in the clip below. If u have any info please don’t keep it to yourself. Barbara is in the hospital clinging to life.https://t.co/2otpPUNVeW— Kathleen Hanna (@kathleenhanna) March 13, 2022
She was initially taken to a nearby hospital, then transferred to Bellevue Medical Center, where she underwent emergency surgery.
Gustern’s grandson AJ Gustern wrote on Facebook that since reaching the hospital she had suffered
traumatic damage to the left side of her brain, and has been unconscious the entire time.
I apologize if it takes me awhile to respond, but I am incomprehensibly broken inside. I struggle to understand and cope with this world on a daily basis…
frankly this is beyond my ability to bear.”
Earlier in the day on March 10, Gustern wrote on Facebook that she was feeling optimistic about the future.
Is there a sudden shift in planetary alignment?
Something is cosmically different for me. I went through a period of feeling detached. I couldn’t remember lyrics. I felt like my voice had totally abandoned me. The thought of doing a show was like sentencing me to be tortured. But as of today all that is reversed. I feel full of creativity, joy at working on a beautiful show with people I adore and totally respect. I feel like a singer again for the first time in forever. What happened? I haven’t a clue.
But whatever it is I am more than grateful. I am extatic [sic].”
Police say the suspect, who has long, curly hair, was last seen wearing a black jacket, black leggings, a white skirt or dress and dark shoes.
Anyone with information on the suspect is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS.
I’m devastated to learn of the absolutely senseless death of Barbara Maier Gustern. Her assailant, who is still at large, must be apprehended and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.https://t.co/zY4qTSvnne— Senator Brad Hoylman (@bradhoylman) March 15, 2022
Absolutely devastated at the passing of Barbara Maier Gustern— ShaneShane (@shaneisland) March 15, 2022
She literally made the voices in my community stronger and more beautiful
She was the kindest and most vibrant person. The best audience member, the loudest cheerer
She drank like a fish and sang like a bird
The universe can be cruel and unfair. Sending out sympathy to all those whose lives were touched, directly and indirectly, by Barbara Maier Gustern. May her memory continue to be a blessing. https://t.co/pWtk3cgHR4— Bill Bragin (@activecultures) March 15, 2022