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Woman charged with hate crime in fatal Sunnyside subway push

Erika Menendez is escorted to a police vehicle in the 112th Precinct parking lot. Photo by Christina Santucci
TimesLedger Newspapers

A Rego Park woman has been charged with murder as a hate crime after confessing to police she pushed a 46-year-old man in front of a train in Sunnyside because she has despised Hindus and Muslims since 9/11, the Queens district attorney said.

Erika Menendez, 31, was arrested at the 112th Precinct in Forest Hills Saturday afternoon and charged in the death of Elmhurst resident Sunando Sen, who was struck by an eastbound No. 7 train at the 40th Street-Lowery Street station Thursday evening after he was shoved onto the tracks.

“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 allegedly told detectives, according to a statement from the DA.

As she was led out of the Forest Hills precinct, Menendez, who was wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt and jeans, wailed loudly and hid her face from photographers.

“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. The victim was allegedly shoved from behind and had no chance to defend himself,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement.

“Beyond that, the hateful remarks allegedly made by the defendant and which precipitated the defendant’s actions can never be tolerated by a civilized society.”

Menendez was picked up by police in Brooklyn when a passerby saw her resemblance to a woman depicted in the surveillance video fleeing the station on Queens Boulevard Thursday evening, according to the NYPD.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Paul Browne said that after she was identified in a lineup, Menendez made statements implicating herself in Sen’s death. As of Saturday evening, Menendez was awaiting arraignment at Queens Criminal Court.

Akash Sarker, who lives in the apartment where Sen rented a room, described the 46-year-old as quiet but popular.

“He was very smart, very educated,” Sarker said, explaining that Sen would help him with computer problems. “He had a lot of friends.”

Sarker said Sen had suffered a stroke a few months back, but recently the Calcutta native had opened a copy shop, Amsterdam Copy & Graphics, on the Upper West Side. On Thursday night, Sen was likely on his way home to Elmhurst after stopping at a bank, Sarker said.

Reach photo editor Christina Santucci by e-mail at timesledgerphotos@gmail.com or by phone at 718-260-4589.

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