Erika Menendez is the suspect who allegedly murdered a man by shoving him in front of a subway train Thursday night in Queens, New York. Cops captured her Saturday morning, and she was charged after a disturbing alleged confession.
Here’s what you should know about her.
1. She Was Charged with a Hate Crime
Erika Menendez was charged with 2nd Degree Murder as a Hate Crime for her attack. Why a hate crime? This is what she allegedly told police:
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.
Her victim was Hindu, not Muslim, and was no longer practicing.
The murdered man loved hot mugs of tea, Indian Classical music & peace. Did not practice Hinduism anymore, bc he felt religion was divisive.
— Sarah Maslin Nir (@SarahMaslinNir) December 28, 2012
2. Her Victim Was Sunando Sen
Sunando Sen was a 46-year-old Indian immigrant whose friends and co-workers recall as brilliant and extremely gentle. He had worked hard and saved up to start his own business, a printing shop, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, where he had been working seven days a week.
3. It Was a Sneak Attack
There was no contact between Menendez and Sen before her attack. She just came up behind him and pushed him. He had no time to react before his body was flung into the path of the oncoming 7 Train around 8 p.m. Thursday, December 27, at the 40th Street stop in Sunnyside, Queens. His killer took off running, down the stairs of the elevated platform.
4. She is 31 Years Old
Menendez is 31 years old. The cops’ initial description of the suspect based on eyewitness reports described her as being in her 20s.
5. A 911 Call Led to Her Capture
On Saturday morning around 5 a.m. cops picked up Menendez at Empire Boulevard and Bedford Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, reported the New York Post. They acted on a tip from a passerby who called 911, recognizing her from the grainy black and white surveillance footage released by cops on Friday. She was captured wearing the same jacket she wore in the video.
6. Her Brother Called the Cops
The Daily News reports cops received several tips after releasing the surveillance footage, including one from the suspect’s brother.
7. She’s Deranged
Witnesses report seeing the suspect walking back and forth talking to herself and then taking a seat alone on a wooden bench before she got up to shove Sen into the train’s path. Menendez exhibited additional signs of strangeness as cops transported her Saturday from the 112th Precinct, where they had interviewed her. The Post reports:
She wailed incoherently, contorted her face into what looked like a fiendish grin, and struggled as officers forced her into an unmarked car.
And on Saturday night at her arraignment she “laughed maniacally,” according to the Daily News, which has dubbed her the 7 Train Psycho. Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown told reporters Saturday he had no information on the suspect’s criminal or mental-health history.
8. She’s Been Arrested Before — For Attacking Men
In June 2003, when she was 21, Menendez attacked her neighbor, retired Fire Battalion Chief Daniel Conlisk, punching him in the face as he took out the trash and screaming “You f*cked my mother!” She also accused him of stealing her jewelry while they were in high school (an absurd accusation, as he was four decades her senior). Two months before that she punched her 36-year-old boyfriend in the face. Cops also nabbed her for cocaine possession in 2008, and she had three sealed arrests since then. According to the AP, her family has called the cops several times in recent years when she failed to take her medication and got out of control.
9. She Could Face Life in Prison
Because she was charged with a hate crime, Menendez is facing a possible minimum sentence of 20 years in prison (it would have been 15 years without the hate crime designation). Her maximum sentence, if convicted, would be life in prison.
10. This Was the Second Subway-Push Death this Month
On December 3, Naeem Davis allegedly shoved Ki-Suk Han to his death at the 49th street subway station in Manhattan.