While the authorities have not commented about the mental state of the woman charged with fatally shoving a man in front of an oncoming subway train, it's clear that Erika Menendez has been very troubled.
Police say that Menendez made statements admitting that she pushed Indian immigrant Sunando Sen into the path of a Queens-bound 7 train at the 40th Street-Lowery station in Queens on Thursday. She allegedly said, "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."
The NY Times reports that the 31-year-old "had years of contact with New York City’s mental health and law enforcement establishments. She was treated by the psychiatric staffs of at least two city hospitals, and caseworkers visited her family home in Queens to provide further help. She was also arrested at least three times, according to the police, twice after violent confrontations."
In 2003, Menendez attacked retired firefighter Daniel Conlisk. He told the Daily News about his run-in:
Conlisk added to the Post
Conlisk was taking out the trash at his Ridgewood, Queens, home, when Menendez appeared out of the darkness and randomly attacked him.
“I was going out with the recyclables. It was dark out. Then this girl was standing there in front of me. She was shouting, ‘You f---ed my mother!’ ” Conlisk recalled.
“She started charging at me. She started clawing me in the face. I was trying to get away from her,” he said.
Covered in his own blood, he retreated into his home.
“There was blood on my face, my chest and my neck,” he said.
When cops arrived, Menendez returned to the scene, screaming that Conlisk had “stole my rings in high school.”
After the assault, Conlisk took out two consecutive orders of protection against Menendez. He said Menendez’s boyfriend begged him not to file charges.
, "It gives me chills that she did this to the other guy. I guess I was lucky."
According to the Wall Street Journal, "Over the past 12 years, police have records of 14 encounters with Ms. Menendes... In at least four of those instances, the official said, Ms. Menendez’s mother, Maricela Mera, told police that Ms. Menendez had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, an illness marked by extreme shifts in mood, and was acting violently." Besides two instances of punching men (one of them being Conlisk), "In January 2010, the NYPD has a report of Ms. Menendez throwing a radio at a police officer and making threats. 'She appeared confused and irritated,' the official said. It wasn’t clear if Ms. Menendez was arrested."
A judge ordered a psychiatric exam for Menendez. An official told the Times that she was released from Bellevue in the past year.