Pushed Man Into Train’s Path In S’Side
Claiming that she did it out of hate, a Rego Park woman allegedly confessed last Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, to killing an Elmhurst man two nights earlier at the 40th Street station in Sunnyside by pushing him off the platform and into the path of an oncoming train that struck and killed him, police announced.
Law enforcement sources said Erica Menendez, 31, of 67th Avenue in Rego Park was charged by members of the 108th Precinct Detective Squad for the murder of Sunando Sen, 46, of 79th Street at the 7 train station last Thursday night, Dec. 27.
According to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, Menendez allegedly told investigators that she believed Sen was a Muslim and chose to push him to his death out of her hate for “Hindus and Muslims ever since” the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Published reports indicated that she laughed while being led out of the 112th Precinct stationhouse following questioning last Saturday, and later during her arraignment in Queens Criminal Court. Menendez was ordered by Judge Gia Morris to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before her next scheduled court date on Monday, Jan. 14.
“[Sen] was allegedly shoved from behind and had no chance to defend himself,” Brown said in a statement released last Saturday. “Beyond that, the hateful remarks allegedly made by [Menendez] and which precipitated [her] actions can never be tolerated by a civilized society.
Reportedly, she has a prior criminal record including the June 2003 attack of a Fire Department battalion chief near his home on Palmetto Street in Ridgewood.
According to authorities, the murder took place just after 8 p.m. last Thursday at the 40th Street station on the elevated 7 line, above the intersection of 40th Street and Queens Boulevard.
Paul Browne, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of public information, said in a statement that eyewitness spotted the woman later identified by Menendez walking back and forth on the platform and talking to herself moments before the incident happened.
Reportedly, Menendez took a seat on a wooden bench facing the Manhattan bound side of the platform as Sen-a co-owner of a Manhattan printing business-stood with his back turned away from her.
As a Manhattan-bound 7 train pulled into the station, law enforcement sources said, Menendez allegedly got up from the bench and pushed Sen off the platform and onto the tracks. Seconds later, police noted, the victim was struck by the lead car of the 11-car train and became pinned under the second car.
Reportedly, Menendez was observed running out of the station down staircases leading from the platform to the mezzanine and then out onto Queens Boulevard. After reaching the street, authorities said, she fled in an unknown direction.
Officers from the 108th Precinct, NYPD Transit Division District 20 and the NYPD Emergency Services Unit rushed to the station along with EMS units. Sen was pronounced dead at the scene; prosecutors described the official cause of death as multiple blunt force trauma.
Power was shut down on the tracks while first responders recovered the victim, and it caused a temporary disruption of 7 train service.
Police units conducted a landand air search for the suspect, but despite their efforts, no immediate arrests were made. During their preliminary investigation, police recovered the security camera image from a nearby business; reportedly, there was no video footage of the suspect taken at the station.
Both the security camera image as well as a composite sketch of the suspect were released by the NYPD the day after the murder.
According to published reports, Menendez was picked up at a Brooklyn location by police officers after an eyewitness recognized her from the sketch. She was later brought to the 112th Precinct stationhouse in Forest Hills, where she was quesis tioned by members of the 108th Precinct Detective Squad.
Upon making her confession, Menendez was officially charged with second-degree murder.
During her arraignment in Queens Criminal Court last Saturday, Judge Morris ordered Menendez held without bail.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Michelle L. Kaszuba of the D.A.’s Homicide Investigations Bureau, which is supervised by Assistant District Attorneys Peter T. Reese, bureau chief, and Peter J. McCormack III, deputy bureau chief.