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Woman accused of hate-crime murder in subway push

By The Associated Press

This article was originally published December 29, 2012 at 11:57 a.m. Updated December 29, 2012 at 5:00 p.m.

— A 31-year-old woman was being held by the police Saturday in connection with the death of a man who was pushed onto the tracks of a Queens subway station and crushed by an oncoming train.

The woman, Erica Menendez of the Bronx, will be charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime, according to a person in the Queens district attorney’s office. When Menendez was taken into custody by police early Saturday morning, she made comments implicating herself in the crime when questioned by detectives, according to Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the Police Department.

A law enforcement official said that Menendez had “told the cops it was an act against Muslims,” and cited the Sept. 11 attacks. The victim, Sunando Sen, was born in India and, according to a roommate, was raised Hindu.

Law enforcement officials would not comment on Menendez’s mental health.

The attack occurred around 8 p.m. Thursday at the 40th Street-Lowery Street station.

Sen, was peering out over the tracks when a woman approached him from behind and shoved him onto the tracks, the police said. Sen never saw her, the police said, and had no time to react.

The woman fled the station, running down two flights of stairs and down the street.

By the next morning, a grainy black-and-white video of the woman who the police said was behind the attack was being broadcast on news programs.

It was not a lot to go on. The video was blurry and only a few seconds long.

Patrol officers picked up Menendez early Saturday after someone who had seen the video on television spotted her on a Brooklyn street and called 911, Browne said. She was taken to Queens and later placed in lineups, according to detectives. Detectives had canvassed the area around the crime scene as well as homeless shelters and hospitals with psychiatric treatment facilities. On Saturday, however, Browne said the woman was not homeless.

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