A woman who told police she shoved a man to his death off a subway platform into the path of a train because she has hated Muslims since Sept. 11 and thought he was one was charged Saturday with murder as a hate crime, prosecutors said.
Erika Menendez was charged in the death of Sunando Sen, who was crushed by a 7 train in Queens on Thursday night, the second time this month a commuter has died in such a nightmarish fashion.
Menendez, 31, was awaiting arraignment on the charge Saturday evening, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said. She could face 25 years to life in prison if convicted. She was in custody and couldn’t be reached for comment, and it was unclear if she had an attorney Menendez, who 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, admitted shoving Sen, who was pushed from behind, authorities said.
“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.
Sen was from India, but police said it was unclear if he was Muslim, Hindu or of some other faith. The 46-year-old lived in Queens and ran a printing shop. He was shoved from an elevated platform on the 7 train line, which connects Manhattan and Queens. Witnesses said a muttering woman rose from her seat on a platform bench and pushed him on the tracks as a train entered the station and then ran off.
Commuters on Friday expressed concern over subway safety.
“It’s just a really sad commentary on the world and on human beings, period,” said Howard Roth, who takes the subway daily.
He said the deadly push reminded him, “The best thing is what they tell you — don’t stand near the edge, and keep your eyes open.”
In a related story, New York City transit officials say they may give more thought to installing sliding doors on some subway platforms to prevent riders from getting hit by trains.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says 54 people were killed on the tracks in 2012, including the two men pushed to their deaths this month.
The Daily News reports that the MTA has had on-and-off discussions about placing protective barriers along at least some platform edges. Other cities, including London and Paris, have barriers.
Interim MTA Executive Director Thomas Prendergast tells the News the agency will now revisit the issue.
It would cost an estimated $1.5 million to install sliding doors along two platform edges in a new station and more to retrofit an existing station.
There are 468 stations in the system.