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July 28, 2014

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Woman charged with murder in N.Y. subway shove death

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Associated Press

Commuters wait on the platform as a train passes through the 40th St.-Lowry St. Station, where a man was killed after being pushed onto the subway tracks, in the Queens section of New York, Friday, Dec. 28, 2012.

Updated Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012 | 3:18 p.m.

NEW YORK — A woman accused of pushing a man to his death in front of a subway train was charged Saturday with murder as a hate crime.

Police arrested Erika Menendez on Saturday after a passer-by on a street noticed she resembled the woman seen in a surveillance video.

A spokeswoman for Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said Menendez told authorities she hates Hindus and Muslims.

Subway shoving victim Sunando Sen was from India, but it's unclear if he was Muslim or Hindu.

Sen, who lived in Queens and ran a printing shop, was killed Thursday night. Witnesses said a muttering woman pushed him on the tracks as a 7 train entered a Queens station and then ran off.

Menendez was in custody Saturday and couldn't be reached for comment. It was unclear if she had an attorney.

It was unclear whether the woman who pushed Sen had any connection to him. Witnesses told police the two hadn't interacted on the platform as they waited for the 7 train, which runs between Manhattan and Queens.

Police released security camera video showing the woman running from the station where Sen was killed.

On Saturday, a passer-by noticed a woman who resembled the woman in the video and called 911. Police responded and confirmed her identity and took her to a police station, where she made statements implicating herself in the crime, police spokesman Paul Browne said.

The attack was the second time this month that a man was pushed to his death in a city subway station. A homeless man was arrested in early December and accused of shoving a man in front of a train in Times Square. He claimed he acted in self-defense and is awaiting trial.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday urged residents to keep the second fatal subway shove in the city this month in perspective. The news of Sen's death came as the mayor touted drops in the city's annual homicide and shooting totals.

"It's a very tragic case, but what we want to focus on today is the overall safety in New York," Bloomberg told reporters following a police academy graduation on Friday.

But commuters still expressed concern over subway safety.

"It's just a really sad commentary on the world and on human beings, period," said Howard Roth, who takes the subway daily.

He said the deadly push reminded him, "the best thing is what they tell you — don't stand near the edge, and keep your eyes open."

Such subway deaths are rare, but other high-profile cases include the 1999 fatal shoving of Kendra Webdale, an aspiring screenwriter, by a former psychiatric patient. That case led to a state law allowing for more supervision of mentally ill people living outside institutions.

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