(TheBlaze/AP) — A woman sought in the death of a man who was shoved in front of a subway train was picked up by police Saturday, after a passer-by noticed her on the street and called authorities.
31-year-old Erica Menendez was being questioned and has been charged with murder as a hate crime, according to prosecutors. She could face 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
46-year-old Sunando Sen, who was from India, ran a printing shop and was living in Queens before the fatal encounter. He died after a woman muttering to herself suddenly lunged forward and pushed him off an elevated platform and onto the tracks of the No. 7 train, which connects Manhattan and Queens.
It was unclear whether the woman had any prior connection to Sen. Witnesses told police the two hadn’t interacted on the platform as they waited for the train.
However, the New York Times has a number of other details:
A law enforcement official said that Ms. Menendez had “told the cops it was an act against Muslims,” and cited the Sept. 11 attacks. The victim, Sunando Sen, was born in India and, according to a roommate, was raised Hindu. [Emphasis added]
Queens DA Richard Brown related Menendez’s shocking explanation:
“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.”
The woman fled after the attack, but police released security camera video showing her running from the station. Investigators had been following up on tips from people who had seen the security video and were checking homeless shelters and psychiatric units in an attempt to identify her.
The attack was the second time this month that a man was pushed to his death in a city subway station. A homeless man was arrested in early December and accused of shoving a man in front of a train in Times Square.
But NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged New Yorkers not to put too much weight on the frightening events.
“It’s a very tragic case, but what we want to focus on today is the overall safety in New York,” Bloomberg told reporters Friday.