Naeem Davis, 30, who reportedly confessed to pushing Ki Suk Han, 58, off a subway platform Monday, was charged with second degree murder and depraved indifference, the New York Post reported.
The Post said Davis, who has been arrested eight times in New York and has a lengthy criminal history in Pennsylvania, showed no remorse for the death.
New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said the suspect was arrested Tuesday afternoon after he implicated himself, The New York Times reported.
The victim was struck and killed by the subway train. Han was on the southbound Q train platform at the 49th Street Station in Times Square in Manhattan when he began to quarrel with a man. Eventually, the man grabbed Han and threw him onto the tracks. As the train approached horrified onlookers tried in vain to get the engineer to stop.
One law enforcement official said the suspect was a panhandler working on the street when he was he was taken into custody. The official said detectives were still trying to determine a motive.
"I don't think this is a crazy man throwing people under the train," the official told the Times, explaining "there is interaction between the two of them."
Part of the exchange was captured on video, leading investigators to believe the two men were involved in a dispute before the incident on the platform.
The Post said the suspect told police the victim had been harassing him.
"He wouldn't stay away, and I pushed him," Davis allegedly told police, the newspaper said.
Pictures, taken by a freelance photographer just before Han was struck and published by the Post, garnered criticism as being insensitive, the Times said.
The photographer, R. Umar Abbasi, said he used his camera flash to try to alert the conductor to stop the train, not to take pictures.
Abbasi said he took police officers to the Post's offices where they examined his pictures for images of the suspect and he left the camera's memory card with Post editors.
He said he wasn't involved in the decision to publish the pictures.
"Every time I close my eyes, I see the image of death," he said. "I don't care about a photograph."
Han left behind a wife and daughter.