Philadelphia, PA – Surveillance video from inside a Philadelphia train station on Monday showed a group of teenagers chasing down and beating a transit worker (video below).
The incident occurred at about 11:30 p.m. on March 15 inside the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s (SEPTA) 15th Street Station in Center City, WCAU reported.
The transit worker, an employee of the Buildings and Bridges Division, was setting up a work zone for his crew in the station when he was suddenly attacked by at least 10 teenagers.
The brutal attack was captured on surveillance cameras inside the station and showed the teenagers attacked the worker from behind and then chased him down when he tried to flee.
“There was no words passed,” Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 234 President Willie Brown told WCAU. “There was no reason. They just attacked him and it’s sometimes almost like they get points or they have this game going where they just jump on somebody.”
The video showed the transit worker was forced to the ground of the station and the teens surrounded him, punching and kicking him.
Then, one at a time, the teens wandered off and the worker was left gasping and trying to get up from the ground.
Brown said the worker was recovering but he called for the resignation of SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel, WCAU reported.
“We have lost control of the subway system,” the union leader said. “I think it’s the leadership of the police department. I don’t think he has confidence in his own police force.”
“This must stop now,” Brown said, according to WTXF. “We need a police chief who will attack the problem and not let riders and transit workers be attacked. It’s nothing personal but Chief Nestel needs to go.”
Chief Nestel condemned the “outrageous behavior” of the teens during a press conference on Thursday, WCAU reported.
But the police chief said he had no intention of resigning.
He acknowledged crime had spiked in the SEPTA system and said SEPTA police officers needed help keeping the system safe, WCAU reported.
“We’re certainly taking measures to try to address that,” Chief Nestel told reporters. “Over the past month, discussions have been ongoing about contracting with a security guard firm to put guards on some platforms to maintain visibility and to serve as observation and reporting posts.”
He said the move could potentially add 60 unarmed security guards to the security plan, WCAU reported.
Chief Nestel said he understood that Brown was worried about his union members’ safety, WTXF reported.
“Mr. Brown has a job, his job is to advocate for the employees of SEPTA and he is very passionate about that. I also share that commitment,” the police chief said. “I consider SEPTA’s employees to be members of my family and I want them to be safe, and I want them to be treated well.”
Chief Nestel also responded to complaints his officers didn’t move fast enough to make arrests, WCAU reported.
“It is not catch and release. It is delayed arrest processing,” he explained. “You know, I don’t want the public to think we’re catching people and giving them a hug and saying, ‘Hey, you know, be on your way.”
Brown said that although ridership dropped to 80 percent during the pandemic, attacks on SEPTA employees have continued to rise, WTXF reported.
Chief Nestel blamed the pandemic for having exacerbated homelessness and mental health crises that have caused problems in train stations.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. WARNING – Graphic Content: