Saturday, December 29, 2012
New York City: A 31-year-old Hispanic woman has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime in connection with the death of a man who was pushed onto the tracks of an elevated subway station in Queens and crushed by an oncoming train
The Latina, Erika Menendez, selected her victim because she believed him to be a Muslim or a Hindu, Richard A. Brown, the Queens district attorney, said. In a statement released by the district attorney’s office, Brown quoted Menendez, “in sum and substance,” as having told the police: “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.” Menendez conflated the Muslim and Hindu faiths in her comments to the police and in her target for attack, officials said. The victim, Sunando Sen, was born in India and, according to a roommate, was raised Hindu. Sen “was allegedly shoved from behind and had no chance to defend himself,” Brown said. “Beyond that, the hateful remarks allegedly made by the defendant and which precipitated the defendant’s actions should never be tolerated by a civilized society.” If convicted, Menendez faces a maximum penalty of life in prison. By charging her with murder as a hate crime, the possible minimum sentence she faced would be extended to 20 years from 15 years, according to prosecutors. The attack occurred at the 40th Street-Lowery Street station in Sunnyside. Sen, 46, was looking out over the tracks when a Hispanic woman approached him from behind and shoved him onto the tracks. Sen never saw her, the police said. The woman fled the station, running down two flights of stairs and down the street. By the next morning, a brief and grainy black-and-white video of the woman who the police said was behind the attack was being broadcast on news programs. Patrol officers picked up Menendez after someone who had seen the video on television spotted her on a Brooklyn street and called 911, said Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the Police Department. She was taken to Queens and later placed in lineups, according to detectives. Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said that, according to witnesses’ accounts, there had been no contact on the subway platform between the attacker and the victim before the shove. The case was the second in December 2012 involving someone being pushed to death in a train station. In the first case, Ki-Suck Han, 58, of Elmhurst, Queens, died under the Q train at the 49th Street and Seventh Avenue station on December 3, 2012. Naeem Davis, a 30-year-old African-American, has been charged with second-degree murder in that case.