(msn.com) – The NYPD is investigating what might be the city’s first coronavirus-related homicide — after a woman hit an elderly Brooklyn hospital patient in the head for violating social distancing, sources said Sunday.
Victim Janie Marshall, 86, died less than four hours after the tense confrontation with 32-year-old Cassandra Lundy in Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Woodhull Hospital, cops said.
Marshall, who was at the hospital for a bowel obstruction, innocently grabbed a metal stand in a hallway near a bed where Lundy, a seizure patient, was sitting around 2 p.m. Saturday, police sources said.
Lundy lashed out, complaining Marshall wasn’t following coronavirus social distancing guidelines, and allegedly slugged her in the head, knocking her to the ground, according to police sources.
Some of the confrontation was caught on video, though no one witnessed it. Hospital police issued Lundy a disorderly conduct summons after the attack and released her, sources said.
Marshall, who helped create Sunshine Community Garden on McKibbin St. and Graham Ave., near her Williamsburg home, died just before 5:40 p.m. Saturday.
“It’s sad,” said Dealice Fuller, who chairs Brooklyn’s Community Board 1. “Something like that happens and you’d like the world to know that somebody contributed something.”
Fuller said Marshall played a key role in establishing the community garden 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,” Fuller said. “We were basically one of the first gardens in the district.”
Police and prosecutors are waiting for an autopsy to determine Marshall’s cause of death. If the death is ruled a homicide caused by the attack hours earlier Lundy could face upgraded charges, law enforcement sources said.
Lundy, who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, has 17 prior arrests, on charges including drug possession, trespass, assault and strangulation, sources said.
Marshall’s friends were shocked by her death. They recalled fondly how hard she worked to keep her apartment beautiful.
“We would just meet in the hall and laugh and talk,” said neighbor Eartha Calloway, 87. “She came from down South like I did and we used to laugh about it, about the heat down there and how we used to wash clothes outdoors, funny things.”
“It just goes to show, you never know,” Calloway added. “You don’t ever know what’s going to happen to you. You could be walking down the hall and someone hits you in the hospital.”
After letting Lundy go with a summons, the hospital didn’t contact the NYPD until almost five hours after Marshall died, sources said. Representatives for NYC Health and Hospitals, which runs Woodhull, didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.