“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,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement.
Authorities charged Erika Menendez with second-degree murder as a hate crime, alleging that the killing of Sunando Sen, a 46-year-old Queens resident from India, was not completely random.
“I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims; ever since 2001 when they put down the Twin Towers I’ve been beating them up,” New York Police Department detectives quoted Menendez as saying.
A spokeswoman for the district attorney said the office did not know Sen’s religion, although a roomate told The New York Times that Sen had been raised a Hindu.
Police have been searching for a suspect since the incident occurred Thursday around 8 p.m. Witnesses said a woman who had been talking to herself shoved Sen from behind and onto the tracks as the No. 7 elevated train approached.
The woman fled the elevated station in the Sunnyside neighborhood of Queens, police said.
Menendez, of Queens, was taken into custody earlier Saturday.
The Thursday night pushing is the second subway shoving death this month, causing some commuters anxiety while traveling on the city’s mass transit system — the only way many crisscross the nation’s largest city.
On Dec. 3, Ki-Suck Han was crushed by an oncoming train at a subway station in Midtown Manhattan. Han, 58, had been on his way to the South Korean Consulate to renew his passport when, witnesses said, he began arguing with a man who had been harassing people on the platform.
The man, later identified as 30-year-old Naeem Davis, is accused of pushing Han onto the tracks. Davis, who is homeless, has been charged with murder.
If Menendez is convicted, she could face 25 years to life in prison.
By Andrew Khouri - Los Angeles Times (MCT)
©2012 Los Angeles Times
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