Suspect in death of man shoved in front of NYC subway train once arrested for random assault

NEW YORK — 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 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.

 

NYPD commissioner Kelly clashes with council over calls to regulate Muslim surveillance

NEW YORK — New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly on Thursday challenged city council members who want to create an inspector general to regulate the department’s surveillance of Muslims, saying his department needs no additional oversight.

In sometimes heated exchanges with council members at a budget hearing, Kelly defended his department’s counterterrorism surveillance program as well as another crime-fighting policy, the stopping, questioning and frisking of people on the street.

Some council members say they are deeply concerned by a series of stories by The Associated Press detailing the extent of the surveillance program, which overwhelmingly targeted Muslim ethnic groups in its hunt for suspicious activity.

Police Leader’s Evolving Efforts to Defend Surveillance

It was still several hours before Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly was to meet with Muslim leaders whom he had invited to Police Headquarters on Tuesday. But the meeting was already drawing criticism, underscoring how precarious the commissioner’s scattershot style of aggressively defending his department’s counterterrorism efforts could be.

The closed-door meeting between Mr. Kelly and a half-dozen Muslim leaders was only the latest example of his attempts to manage the imbroglio. It has centered on the Police Department’s surveillance of Muslim communities in New York City and beyond, in places like New Jersey and Long Island, as well as its tracking of the Web sites of Muslim student organizations at colleges across the Northeast.

Muslim community leaders — some who were invited to the hourlong meeting and some who were not — laced into Mr. Kelly’s efforts, particularly over what they saw as his ploy to sidestep controversy by selecting the participants and meeting privately.

But the meeting also reflected an overall strategy that has been evolving for three weeks, even before a new round of revelations about the department’s monitoring and mapping of Muslims was disclosed in the latest of a series of articles by The Associated Press.

Muslim groups, interfaith leaders plan rally in wake of NYPD intel report on surveillance

NEW YORK — Muslim groups and interfaith leaders are holding a rally in the wake of a report about New York Police Department intelligence.

The rally is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday, January 3, 2012, at Manhattan’s Foley Square. It will be followed by a march to police headquarters.

A secret police document shows that the NYPD recommended increasing surveillance of thousands of Muslims and their mosques based solely on their religion.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the May 2006 NYPD intelligence report on Iran. It says police should expand clandestine operations at Shiite mosques.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said the NYPD never considers religion in its policing. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has said police only go where investigative leads take them.

New York police arrest man in suspected bomb plot

Police said Sunday they had arrested a U.S. citizen who planned to bomb police cars and post offices and kill U.S. servicemen returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to protest the American military presence in those countries.

Jose Pimentel, 27, a convert to Islam, had been under surveillance for two years but seemed to have stepped up his bomb-making activities and plotting after the Sept. 30 killing by U.S. forces of Anwar Awlaki, a radical U.S.-born cleric who was living in Yemen, authorities said. Awlaki was a prominent voice for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, an affiliate of Al Qaeda.

Awlaki’s death “really set him off,” Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said at a Sunday night news conference at City Hall. He called Pimentel a “lone wolf.”

Federal authorities also said this is not the first time since the 2001 attacks that local New York law enforcement officials have conducted their own anti-terrorism investigation without bringing in federal authorities. They cited a case in 2004 when two terrorism suspects were believed to be plotting to ignite bombs in the New York area, and New York police and their intelligence division shut down the operation.

2 men arrested in New York, accused of plotting to blow up synagogue

Two men who officials said complained that Muslims “were being treated like dogs” were accused Thursday of conspiring to blow up a synagogue and were being held on terrorism and hate-crime charges in New York.

The men were arrested Wednesday night while they buying guns and an inert hand grenade from undercover officers, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said at an afternoon news conference attended by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Manhattan Dist. Atty. Cyrus R. Vance Jr. The case began before the killing of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden on May 2 during a U.S. raid in Pakistan.

Officials called it the 13th attempted attack by Islamic militants on New York since Sept. 11, 2001.