Man arrested for throwing woman onto SEPTA tracks, surveillance released (Discretion Advised)

January 18, 2013 2:31:21 PM PST
SEPTA police arrested a man suspected of throwing a woman onto train tracks earlier this week.

Discretion is advised when viewing the video and photos.

Police say at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, a man approached a lone young woman on a subway platform in Chinatown.

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He asked her for a lighter then backed off.

Seconds later, he aggressively moved in to brutally attack, punch, the unassuming 23-year-old woman sitting and waiting to catch a train.

The assault escalated when the suspect grabbed the woman by her ankles and threw her down onto the train tracks of the Broad-Ridge Spur Line at 8th and Race streets.

The suspect picked up the victim's cell phone and casually walked away, giving himself more face time on SEPTA's surveillance cameras.

"Thank God she wasn't knocked unconscious in that track area," SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestell said.

Nestel says, amazingly, the woman climbed off the tracks and suffered only bumps and bruises.

Police tell Action News they quickly distributed the suspect's surveillance photo to hundreds of local law enforcement officers and increased manpower on the platforms, but did not tell the public about the violent man roaming the streets.

The chief says he made the risky decision to withhold the information because the suspect was wearing a very distinct jacket and he did not want to jeopardize the case.

It took just about 48 hours until police caught the suspect at 2:30 p.m. Thursday in the area of 15th Street and JFK Boulevard wearing the same unique jacket.

"I really wanted to catch this guy and I truly felt that the best way to do that was to hold onto information about his jacket and put as many officers as I could to catch him and it worked. It worked," Nestel said.

Police are still looking into the suspect's motive, but believe this to be mental health related.