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Woman charged in NYC subway death ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation

Joshua Lott / Reuters

New York City police officers escort 31-year-old Erika Menendez to a waiting car as she screams in Queens, New York City, on Saturday.

Updated, 10:42 a.m. Sunday -- NEW YORK — A 31-year-old Bronx woman charged with pushing an immigrant to his death from a New York City subway platform has been ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

Erika Menendez was arraigned Saturday night on a charge of murder as a hate crime, the Associated Press reported. Judge Gia Morris ordered that she be held without bail and be given a mental health exam, it said 

Menendez is charged in the death of Sunando Sen, who was crushed by a train in Queens on Thursday night

Menendez, who was seen muttering to herself before shoving a man onto subway tracks in front of a speeding train, said she did so because, "I hate Hindus and Muslims," prosecutors said on Saturday.

Menendez admitted to investigators that she pushed Sunando Sen, a 46-year-old Queens resident, on Thursday because of her hatred of Hindus and Muslims, a feeling that stems from Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Sen was born in India and ran a printing shop. He died Thursday night after being knocked onto the tracks. Police released security camera video showing a woman running from the station.

Police said that Menendez was recognized on the street in Brooklyn by a passer-by who called 911. Patrol officers found and arrested her.

In a statement, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said that while in custody Menendez made incriminating statements, saying that she "pushed a Muslim" onto the tracks. Brown also said:

"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. The victim was allegedly shoved from behind and had no chance to defend himself. Beyond that, the hateful remarks allegedly made by the defendant and which precipitated the defendant's actions can never be tolerated by a civilized society."

The attack was the second time this month that someone was pushed to their death in a New York 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 is awaiting trial, and claimed he acted in self-defense.

Further details on how police managed to identify Menendez were not immediately available.

A woman is reportedly in custody in connection with the death of a man who was struck by an oncoming NYC subway.

Investigators had been following up on tips from people who had seen the security video and were checking homeless shelters and psychiatric units in an attempt to identify the woman.

It was unclear whether Menendez had any connection to Sen. Witnesses told police the two hadn't interacted on the platform as they both waited for the train.

This article includes reporting by The Associated Press and Reuters.

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