Suspect in NYC subway push arrested before

Suspect in NYC subway push arrested before

Posted:
AP Photo AP Photo

Web Producer: Lucy Valencia, Assignment Desk Editor

NEW YORK (AP) -- The family of a woman accused of shoving a man to his death in front of a subway train called police several times in the past five years because she had not been taking prescribed medication and was difficult to deal with, authorities said Monday.

Erika Menendez, 31, was being held without bail on a murder charge in the death of Sunando Sen. She told police she pushed the 46-year-old India native because she thought he was Muslim, and she hates them, according to prosecutors.

They had never met before she suddenly shoved him off the subway platform because she "thought it would be cool," prosecutors said. The victim was Hindu, not Muslim.

It wasn't clear whether Menendez had a diagnosed mental condition. But her previous arrests and legal troubles paint a portrait of a troubled woman.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly would not say what medication she was taking or whether she had a psychiatric history. Authorities were called to her home five times since 2005 on reports of an emotionally disturbed person.

In one instance, police said, she threw a radio at the responding officers.

Menendez had been arrested several times, starting when she was young. In 2003, she was arrested on charges she punched a 28-year-old man in the face inside her Queens home, but the case was later dropped. She pleaded guilty later that year to assaulting a stranger on the street near her home. The victim, retired Fire Department official Daniel Conlisk, said the attack was violent and relentless.

He said he was sorting recyclables outside his home one night when Menendez approached him and punched him in the face, screaming that he was having sex with her mother.

"It was such a shot," Conlisk said. "And I was surprised she hit so hard, because she was just a girl."

He said he tried to fend her off as she clawed at his skin. He eventually broke free and went inside his home, where he called police. When they arrived, he said, she was still outside screaming about him having sex with her mother, and saying he had stolen jewelry from her in high school.

"That's when everyone realized there's really something wrong with her," he said. Conlisk, 65, said he took out two restraining orders against her but never saw her after he was attacked.

He said that he felt bad that he pressed charges, but that she seemed dangerous.

"I really believe if she had a knife, she would have killed me," he said.

In December 2003, Menendez was arrested for cocaine possession. She was given a conditional discharge after pleading guilty.

Last Thursday, witnesses said a woman pacing and mumbling to herself suddenly shoved Sen off the elevated platform of a No. 7 train that travels between Manhattan and Queens. She fled.

Menendez was spotted by a passer-by who called 911 and said she resembled the wanted suspect. When she was arrested, she told police she shoved Sen because she blamed Muslims and Hindus for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and had been "beating them up" ever since, according to authorities. She said she thought Sen was Muslim.

Sen, a Kolkata native, owned a print shop and had lived in Queens for decades.

She laughed and snickered so much during her court hearing last weekend that the judge admonished her. The attorney who represented her only for her arraignment said she acted the same way with him when he tried to speak with her. He had no further comment.

Calls to Menendez's home on Monday were unanswered. Angel Luis Santiago, who used to work at the Queens building where Menendez's mother and stepfather live, said he was shocked by her arrest on the murder charge.

"It surprised me what she did," he said. "She never acted that way."

  • Email Alert Sign Up

    Sign up here to receive breaking news stories from KSWT.com and morning updates to your email inbox.

    * denotes required fields


    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.

KSWT-TV Affiliates

Go to KSWT-TV's Facebook page
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Forecasters: Arizona to see wetter weather

    Forecasters: Arizona to see wetter weather

    A week after the Phoenix area received record rainfall, more heavy rain and the possibility of localized flooding are expected across much of Arizona.More >>
    A week after the Phoenix area received record rainfall, more heavy rain and the possibility of localized flooding are expected across much of Arizona.More >>
  • KSWT-TV NFL Football Schedule 2012-2013

    KSWT-TV NFL Football Schedule 2012-2013

    How to find KSWT-TV CBS System Channel Antenna (over the air) 13.1 Time Warner Cable 13 HD - Time Warner Cable 713 HD - Dish Network 13 Beam Speed(Welton) 13 Megacable - San Luis R.C. 91 Cablemas - MexicaliMore >>
    Click here to view our 2012 - 2013 KSWT TV CBS 13 NFL Football schedule.More >>
  • ADOT: I-17 partially closed after a fatal crash

    ADOT: I-17 partially closed after a fatal crash

    Northbound lanes of Interstate 17 have partially reopened after a fatal crash near Black Canyon City northwest of Phoenix.More >>
    Northbound lanes of Interstate 17 have partially reopened after a fatal crash near Black Canyon City northwest of Phoenix.More >>
  • 4 students hurt, 1 seriously, in Denver lab fire

    4 students hurt, 1 seriously, in Denver lab fire

    Monday, September 15 2014 6:51 PM EDT2014-09-15 22:51:40 GMT
    Four students suffered burns and at least one had serious injuries after a fire erupted Monday in a Denver high school chemistry laboratory, officials said.More >>
    Four students were burned and one suffered serious injuries Monday after a fire erupted in a Denver high school chemistry laboratory while the teacher was conducting a demonstration with methanol, officials said.More >>
  • Northern California wildfire burns 100 homes

    Northern California wildfire burns 100 homes

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 1:31 AM EDT2014-09-16 05:31:38 GMT
    Two raging wildfires in California forced hundreds of people to evacuate their homes, including one near a lakeside resort town that burned nearly two dozen structures.More >>
    A fire driven by fierce winds raced through a small town near the Oregon border on Monday, burning a church to the ground, damaging or destroying 100 homes and prompting evacuation orders for at least 1,500 people,...More >>
  • At least 19 deaths linked to faulty GM cars

    At least 19 deaths linked to faulty GM cars

    The number of people killed by faulty General Motors carsnow stands at 19, significantly higher than the 13 deaths previously disclosed by the automaker. Nineteen death claims have been found eligible for the GM compensation fund that's administered by attorney and compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg. That figure appears likely to rise, with fund deputy administrator Camille Biros telling CBS MoneyWatch that she expects the fund to approve additional eligible claims as the effort continues t...More >>
    The number of people killed by faulty General Motors carsnow stands at 19, significantly higher than the 13 deaths previously disclosed by the automaker. Nineteen death claims have been found eligible for the GM compensation fund that's administered by attorney and compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg. That figure appears likely to rise, with fund deputy administrator Camille Biros telling CBS MoneyWatch that she expects the fund to approve additional eligible claims as the effort continues t...More >>
  • Drug tunnel found in Mexicali

    Drug tunnel found in Mexicali

    Mexicali--Mexican police found a partially constructed drug tunnel near the U.S. border in Mexicali. Police said the tunnel was presumably being built by drug traffickers. Mexicali's police chief saidMore >>
    Mexican police found a partially constructed drug tunnel near the U.S. border in Mexicali. More >>
  • Border Watch: Smugglers caught

    Border Watch: Smugglers caught

    In Border Watch News, El Centro Sector Border Patrol Agents assigned to the Imperial Sand Dunes arrest five smugglers crossing into the U.S. via the dunes near Grays Well Road. The five men were carrying bundles of marijuana weigh just over two hundred pounds and worth an estimated street value of well over a hundred thousand dollars.More >>
    In Border Watch News, El Centro Sector Border Patrol Agents assigned to the Imperial Sand Dunes arrest five smugglers crossing into the U.S. via the dunes near Grays Well Road. The five men were carrying bundles of marijuana weigh just over two hundred pounds and worth an estimated street value of well over a hundred thousand dollars.More >>