Queens Woman Charged With Murder
BY MEGAN MONTALVO
Nearly one month after Elmhurst resident Ki-Suk Han was pushed to his death in a Manhattan subway station, local residents are mourning yet another victim who died at the hands of a stranger.
On Dec. 31, 46-year-old Sunando Sen, an Indian Hindu immigrant of Elmhurst, was laid to rest at St. Michael's Cemetery in a traditional Hindu ceremony, four days after a Rego Park woman pushed him into the path of an oncoming 7 train at the 40th Street-Lowery Street Station in Sunnyside.
"The defendant is accused of committing what is every subway commuter's worst nightmare - being suddenly and senselessly pushed into the path of an oncoming train," said Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, who identified the pusher as 31-year-old Erika Menendez of 98-01 67th Ave. in Rego Park. "The victim was allegedly shoved from behind and had no chance to defend himself."
While Menendez is awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on a complaint charging her with second-degree murder as a hate crime, the DA's office said that, according to the charges, she was observed talking to herself while seated on a bench at the subway station and was also observed pacing on the platform and muttering to herself.
When questioned by police, Menendez 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."
Earlier this week, Menendez appeared in court smiling and repeatedly laughing, prompting a mandatory psychiatric evaluation at Elmhurst Hospital before her next court appearance on Jan. 14.
In the wake of the killing, several local elected officials, including Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Elmhurst) and Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing), have spoken out, urging the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to expand existing proposals, initiatives and pilot programs considering other commuter safety and security measures.
"The recent tragedy at the 40th Street 7 train station highlights the need to seriously examine platform and subway station security protocols," Van Bramer said. "New Yorkers rely on their subway system every day and must be safe going to and from work."
Among the proposed enhancements detailed by the legislators are the installation of more security cameras and implementation of a curtain system, which would be similar to what is currently used in international countries, such as China and England, where the subway system features drainage pits that guard against flooding, but also have been shown to halve the risk of death when people fall or are pushed onto the tracks.
"In less than a month, two of my constituents have been pushed onto subway tracks and killed," Peralta said. "I urge the MTA to immediately act on common-sense measures to improve rider safety and security."
Reach Reporter Megan Montalvo at (718) 357-7400 Ext. 128 or email@example.com.