Nisei Woman Dies After Being Pushed Off Train Platform

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Betty Sugiyama, 84, was a longtime resident of Little Tokyo.

By MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS and GWEN MURANAKA
RAFU STAFF WRITERS
A woman was in custody on Monday for allegedly pushing an 84-year-old Nisei woman off the Metro Gold Line platform in Little Tokyo onto the tracks, a fall that apparently caused her death, authorities said.

Betty Sugiyama died at a hospital following the fall that she suffered about 8:30 a.m. Sunday at the Metro Gold Line station at 200 N. Alameda St., said sheriff’s Capt. Mike Parker.

Jackkqueline Pogue, 44, was arrested by Metro deputies at the train station and was booked on suspicion of attempted murder. She is being held in lieu of $1 million bail. Pogue is being held at the Century Regional Detention Facility of the Los Angeles County Jail; arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday.

Sugiyama was a resident of Tokyo Villa apartments on Central Ave., where she resided with sister, Mary, and brother, John. She was born in Seattle and grew up in Little Tokyo. During World War II, Sugiyama was interned at Heart Mountain; her family returned to Little Tokyo after the war and opened Rafu Shoten, a general store on Weller St. After Rafu Shoten closed, she then worked at Kinokuniya Bookstore.

The crime was witnessed by the victim’s sister Mary, who was accompanying her to the train.

“It was Sunday morning and we were walking to take the Gold Line to Union Station on our way to spend the day

A view of the Metro Gold Line station in Little Tokyo where Betty Sugiyama was pushed from the platform on Sunday. (MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo)

in Long Beach,” said Mary, in an interview with The Rafu Shimpo. “When we were walking up, we saw that the train had already stopped at the station. As we were rushing to get on the train, there was this woman who was sitting on one of the benches, and all of a sudden, she jumped up and pushed my sister off the platform and onto the tracks.”

A Metro worker was on the scene and immediately responded, calling sheriff’s deputies, who took Pogue into custody.

“Given that the victim has now died as a result of her injuries, investigators will be seeking to file a murder charge with the office of the Los Angeles County District Attorney,” sheriff’s Lt. Dave Coleman said.

The attack is the second homicide this year involving a woman of Japanese descent in the Little Tokyo vicinity. In January, Hideko Oyama, 74, manager of the Chetwood Hotel, was slain allegedly by Jian Hong Li, a 39-year-old Chinese national, on Jan. 5.

Brian Kito of the Little Tokyo Public Safety Association said the group is planning to put together a meeting for Little Tokyo seniors to discuss safety on the Gold Line.

“We just want to let people know not to be afraid to go there. Elderly would think that this could happen to anybody, we don’t want them to think that they’re going to be a victim,” said Kito.

—ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CITY NEWS SERVICE

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