On Thursday December 27, at around 8 p.m., police say 31-year-old Erika Menendez shoved 46-year-old Sunando Sen from the platform onto the tracks as a Flushing-bound 7 train was approaching the Sunnyside station.
Menendez was arrested around 5 a.m. near the intersection of Bedford Avenue and Empire Boulevard in Crown Heights, after an observant tipster noticed the winter jacket from the video of the suspect released by police following the incident.
She was asking for directions to the subway.
Menendez was taken to the 112th Precinct in Forest Hills for questioning. There, police say, she confessed to the crime and said that she pushed Sen because she hates Muslims and Hindus. Several witnesses who saw the Bronx woman mumbling to herself on the platform just before she pushed Sen, identified her as the assailant in a police line-up.
Menendez has been charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime. She will undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine if she is mentally competent to stand trial.
On Friday morning, Councilman Peter Koo said the MTA should look into a system used in many Asian countries, where a barrier prevents the riders from accessing the tunnel.
Instead, the train stops at a specific point, and the doors of both the train and barrier open, allowing riders to access the train. modeling a new system like many Asian country have.
Koo said this will not only prevent people from falling or being pushed on to the tracks, but help alleviate the garbage situation, as well.
“This way people cannot be pushed onto the subway, and you will also keep the subway much cleaner,” wrote Koo in a letter to the MTA.
The MTA has looked into protective barriers in the past, but has said that given the lack of uniformity in the subway system it would be difficult to retrofit it to accommodate all styles of trains and stations.
Meanwhile, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, whose district includes the subway stop where the attack occurred, called on the MTA to create deterrents.
“It does strike me in a post-September 11th world that there aren’t cameras installed in our subway stations,” he said.
He also said Koo's idea was worth looking into. “It seems to me that the MTA needs to look into a system that Councilman Koo is proposing, and then also we all should ask why are there not cameras at subway stops,” Van Bramer said.