The second person this month to shove somebody to their death in the New York City subway has been charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime, reports the Associated Press. The suspect, Erika Menendez, 31, was “cackling” with laughter as she was arraigned for the brutal killing.
Menendez eluded police for two days after reportedly pushing Sunando Sen, 46, to his death Thursday night in an unprovoked attack. Witnesses said a muttering woman rose from her seat on a platform bench and pushed Sen on the tracks as a train entered the 40th Street/Lowery station in Sunnyside, Queens. She then ran from the station. Witnesses told police Menendez and Sen had not interacted on the platform before she pushed him.
On Saturday, someone recognized Menendez from the surveillance video police released and called 911. An NYPD spokesman confirmed that Menendez made “statements implicating herself in the death of Sunando Sen.”
The AP reports “the sum and substance” of what Menendez told police during her interrogation:
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.
Obviously, Menendez is ignorant about the 9/11 attacks and the differences between Hindus and Muslims, among many other things. She confused Muslims and Hindus in her comments to the police, reported the New York Times.
Whether Sen was Hindu or Muslim doesn’t make a bit of difference in the outrageous and horrific nature of his death – but, for the record, Sen was born in India and practiced Hinduism, reports the New York Times. He lived in Queens, owned a shop called New Amsterdam Copies, and was a graphic designer for posters, according to his roommate.
Menendez laughed “manically” as she was charged with the crime, reports the NY Daily News. The laughter infuriated the judge, who said to defense lawyer Dietrich Epperson: “Tell your client this is not funny. This is not appropriate.”
Prosecutors have said that Menendez has expressed no remorse — and even bragged about smoking pot and having sex with her “man in Brooklyn” after the vicious murder. She is held without bail. If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of life in prison and a minimum sentence of at least 20 years, reports the New York Times.
As I was researching this article, I came across a blog post written by a customer of Sen’s shop who worked with the deceased over a period of a few weeks restoring old photographs. He had this remembrance of Sen:
He was patient, mainly. He worked painstakingly to get the pictures right– photos of my parents…cutting their wedding cake, my grandparents glowing…He made a relatively complicated procedure easy, and he was happy to do it.
This crime recalls two other tangentially related ones in recent news:
- Earlier this month, a homeless man, Naeem Davis, pushed Ki-Suck Han in front of a NYC subway after they had argued on the platform. Davis later told police he “kept hearing voices” that said: “Naeem, he’s coming again. He’s coming again. You got to do something.” Davis is charged with second-degree murder.
- Before Christmas, mosque arsonist Randolph Linn, 52, claimed a similar motive of hatred for Muslims as the reason he burned down a mosque this summer. He said Fox News and conservative talk radio had convinced him that “most Muslims are terrorists” and that he got “riled up” by watching Fox News and consuming “45 beers” over a span of seven hours before committing his crime. Under a plea deal, Linn is expected to serve 20 years in prison.
I just wish we could act on gun deaths as decisively as we seem to be willing to act on subway deaths. After a former psychiatric patient who went of his meds murdered Kendra Webdale, an aspiring screenwriter, in 1999 by pushing her in front of a train, New York passed a law allowing judges to compel people to undergo outpatient psychiatric treatment.