NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – The woman charged with pushing a man off a subway platform to his death has been ordered by a judge to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
Judge Gia Morris ordered Erika Menendez, 31, held without bail and be given a mental health exam.
Menendez was arraigned Saturday night on a charge of second degree murder as a hate crime.
“The defendant is accused of committing what is every subway commuter’s worst nightmare,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
Menendez was incoherent at her arraignment in Queens criminal court, at one point laughing so hard that the judge told her defense lawyer, “You’re going to have to have your client stop laughing.”
She is accused of pushing Sunando Sen in front of an approaching 7 train at the 40th-Lowery Street elevated station on Thursday evening around 8 p.m.
Police said Menendez admitted to shoving Sen off the platform.
Menendez reportedly told authorities, “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,” according to the criminal complaint.
She later said: “There is no reason. I just pushed him in front of the train because I thought it would be cool,” according to the Queens district attorney’s office.
She was arrested at Empire Boulevard and Bedford Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn on Saturday morning after someone recognized her and called 911, according to police.
Following her arrest Menendez gave investigators two addresses, one in the Bronx; the other in the Forest Hills section of Queens, the apparent home of her mother.
Police said witnesses saw the suspect pacing and mumbling on the platform before taking a seat alone on a wooden bench. Then as the train approached the station, witnesses said she suddenly shot forward, shoving the unsuspecting man onto the tracks and directly into the path of an oncoming 7 train.
Witnesses said it did not appear the two had any contact before the incident.
“I’m not certain how much time our witness had spent on the platform. But the witness says there was no contact between the two of them while she observed both of them,” police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
Sen, a Bangladeshi native, ran a copy shop on Amsterdam Avenue near Columbia University and shared one floor of a house in Queens with two roommates.
He was Hindu, according to his roommates.
The incident marked the second deadly subway push this month. On Dec. 3, police said 58-year-old Ki Suck Han was pushed to his death by 30-year-old Naeem Davis. The two were seen on cell phone video arguing just moments before Han was dumped on the tracks.
Straphangers are now on high alert.
“Growing up in the city you would stand close to the edge and see if the train comes so it makes you rethink the things you do on a regular basis,” Marcelo Tarina said Friday.
Menendez is due back in court on Jan. 14.
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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