Sub­way sus­pect or­dered tested

Erika Me­nen­dez, 31, ac­cused of push­ing man in front of train.

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - By Colleen Long

NEW YORK — A woman sus­pected in the death of an im­mi­grant who was pushed off a New York City sub­way plat­form has been or­dered to un­dergo a psy­chi­atric eval­u­a­tion.

Erika Me­nen­dez, 31, was ar­raigned Satur­day night on a charge of mur­der as a hate crime. She had told po­lice she has hated Mus­lims since Sept. 11 and thought the vic­tim was one. Judge Gia Mor­ris or­dered Me­nen­dez held with­out bail and given a men­tal health exam.

Me­nen­dez is charged in the death of Su­nando Sen, who was crushed by a train in Queens on Thurs­day night. Friends and co-work­ers said Sen, a 46-year-old In­dian im­mi­grant, was Hindu.

“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 told po­lice, ac­cord­ing to the district at­tor­ney’s of­fice.

Me­nen­dez was in­co­her­ent at her ar­raign­ment in Queens crim­i­nal court, at one point laugh­ing so hard that the judge told her de­fense lawyer, “You’re go­ing to have to have your client stop laugh­ing.”

Me­nen­dez ad­mit­ted shov­ing Sen, who was pushed from be­hind, au­thor­i­ties said. She was ar­rested af­ter a tip by a passer-by who saw her on a street and thought she looked like the woman in a sur­veil­lance video re­leased by po­lice.

A call to Me­nen­dez’s at­tor­ney was not im­me­di­ately re­turned Sun­day.

An­gel Luis San­ti­ago, who once worked at the Queens build­ing where Me­nen­dez’s mother and step­fa­ther live, said he was shocked by her ar­rest.

“It sur­prised me what she did,” he said. “She never acted that way.”

Me­nen­dez’s next court ap­pear­ance is sched­uled for Jan. 14.

Sen was the sec­ond man to die af­ter be­ing pushed in front of a New York City sub­way train this month. Ki-Suck Han was killed in a mid­town Man­hat­tan sub­way sta­tion on Dec. 3. A photo of Han cling­ing to the edge of the plat­form a split sec­ond be­fore he was struck by a train was pub­lished on the front page of the New York Post, caus­ing an up­roar about whether the pho­tog­ra­pher, who was catch­ing a train, or any­one else should have tried to help him.

A home­less man was ar­rested and charged with mur­der in that case and is await­ing trial. He claimed he acted in self-de­fense.

It’s un­clear whether any­one tried, or could have tried, to help Sen on Thurs­day.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged res­i­dents Fri­day to keep Sen’s death in per­spec­tive as he touted new his­toric lows in the city’s an­nual homi­cide and shoot­ing to­tals.

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