Alleged Subway Pusher Erika Menendez Arrested in Hate Crime
FOREST HILLS — A woman alleged to have killed a Woodside man waiting for a 7 train by pushing him into the tracks Thursday was arrested with a hate crime Saturday, after she allegedly admitted to hating Muslims, according to the Queens District Attorney.
Erika Menendez, 31, of Rego Park, was recognized Saturday morning in Brooklyn by a person who had seen her in a surveillance video the NYPD released Friday night, police said.
After she was spotted on Bedford Avenue near Empire Boulevard, as the NY Daily News reported, the eyewitness dialed 911 to report the sighting. Patrolling officers on the scene confirmed the woman's identity, police said.
Taking her into custody, police brought her to detectives at the 112th Precinct for questioning, where she made statements implicating herself Saturday afternoon, police said, eventually confessing to the homicide.
“I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims," she allegedly told police, according to charges filed by District Attorney Richard Brown. "Ever since 2001 when they put down the Twin Towers, I’ve been beating them up.”
The DA charged her with murder in the second degree, as a hate crime, and if convicted, Menendez faces 25 years to life in prison, the office stated in a release.
"The defendant is accused of committing what is every subway commuter's worst nightmare — being suddenly and senselessly pushed into the path of an oncoming train," said DA Brown.
Menendez was arraigned shortly before 11 p.m. Saturday, and held without bail, a spokeswoman from Johnson's office said.
The brutal death of Sunando Sen, 46, came as a surprise to friends, who told DNAinfo.com New York that Sen had just opened his own copy shop in Manhattan, fulfilling a lifelong dream. They described him as a gentle, hardworking immigrant who had moved from Calcutta, India to Queens years before.
His friends were devastated about the death on Friday. "It's broken my heart," said Sen's roommate, M.D. Khan, 33.
Sen was waiting for the 7 train at the 40th Street station, near Queens Boulevard, when the woman, who had been mumbling to herself on the platform, approached him from behind and pushed him onto the northbound tracks as a train was pulling into the station, police said.
Menendez's defense attorney has requested a psychiatric evaluation of the alleged killer, the results of which will be presented in Queens Criminal Court on January 14.
The death came weeks after Ki-Suck Han, 58, was killed when he was pushed onto the Q train tracks at 49th Street in Midtown. Police arrested Naeem Davis, 30, who admitted to shoving Han, and later charged Davis with murder.