New York City police officers escort 31-year-old Erika Menendez to an awaiting car as she screams, at New York City Police department 112th Precinct in the Queens Borough of New York, December 29, 2012. Menendez who made self-incriminating statements was taken in custody in the death of a man pushed in front of an oncoming New York City subway train, police said on Saturday, the second such fatality this month for one of the world's busiest subway systems. (Photo : Reuters)
The 31-year-old New York City woman charged in the death of an Indian man has a history of mental illness, police said on Monday. Erika Menendez is accused of pushing Sunando Sen onto the tracks of a subway train in Queens, ultimately causing his death. She allegedly confessed to hating Muslims to police, DNAinfo.com reported on Sunday.
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According to UPI, the psychiatric staffs of Bellevue and Elmhurst Hospital Center have treated Menendez for mental illness in the past. It is unknown what she has been treated for or what medication she has/should be taking. "She has been in and out of institutions," an officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, reportedly told UPI.
Menendez has previously been arrested at least three, with two of those times involving violent confrontations.
The Rego Park woman was arrested on Saturday in connection to Sen's subway death. According to the NY Daily News, someone who recognized her from the surveillance video NYPD released on Friday night saw Menendez on Bedford Avenue near Empire Boulevard. The witness called 911 and patrolling officers confirmed her identity, police said.
Menendez was taken into custody and brought to the 112th Precinct for questioning, DNAinfo.com reported. There, police said that she implicated herself and eventually confessing to the horrific homicide.
According to charges filed by District Attorney Robert Johnson, Menendez 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."
In a statement released by the office of the DA, Menendez was charged with murder in the second degree, as a hate crime, and faces up to 25 years in prison. A spokesman from Johnson's office said she was arraigned before 11 p.m. Saturday and held without bail.
New York Daily News reported that Menendez "broke into a maniacal fit of laughter" and "started cackling" after she was formally charged.
Friends of Sunando Sen, 46, described him to DNAinfor.com as a "gentle, hardworking immigrant" from Calcutta, India. He was waiting for the 7 train at the 40th Street station near Queens Boulevard when Menendez supposedly pushed him in front of a train that was pulling into the station.
Sen's death comes just weeks after South Korean Ki-Suck Han, 58, was killed after he was pushed onto the Q train tracks at 49th Street in Midtown. According to DNAinfo.com, Naeem Davis, 30, admitted to shoving Han and was charged with murder.