A man who police say is mentally challenged was arrested Thursday for attacking a woman and throwing her on the tracks at a Center City subway station.
The attack happened Tuesday at about 3:30 p.m. at the Chinatown station at 8th and Race streets.
The incident, which was caught on surveillance footage, shows the man waiting by himself on the northbound platform when a woman walks up and sits down on a nearby bench. The woman reported the man asked to borrow a lighter.
Once the woman obliges the man grabs her around the neck, punches her in the face several times, and violently grabs her off the bench. He drags her across the platform and throws her onto the track.
The 23-year-old victim was able to get up from the track before a train arrived and go to the southbound track where she climbed back on to the platform.
Meanwhile, the suspect walked out of the station with the victim’s cell phone, police said.
Police said they do not have a motive.
Authorities said they chose not to announce the incident when it happened because they did not want to compromise the investigation by giving a description of the suspect’s jacket, which was very distinct.
“It was so distinct that we tried to keep the description of that jacket in law enforcement circles because it was our best lead on clearing this,” Chief Thomas Nestel said during a press conference. “With our partners in the Philadelphia Police Department we increased the number of officers out on the platform in our stations and there were many people looking for this person.”
SEPTA police arrested the suspect near 15th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard around 2:30 p.m. Thursday. He is expected to be charged with aggravated assault, robbery and related offenses.
Nestel said the suspect was wearing the jacket seen in the video and police recovered the victim’s cell phone.
Police did not release the suspect’s name, but said he may be homeless.
The victim suffered minor bumps and bruises.
The attack comes in the wake of two incidents in New York City where passengers were thrown in front of oncoming trains and fatally struck.
“It is horrifying, and when you see that happen you think the worst,” Nestel said. “We all know there's a tremendous electrical source down there — the third rail. If you touch that third rail you die.
“Somebody was on her side that day,” he added.