UPDATE 11/21 4:45pm: SEPTA police are interviewing a person of interest in the Broad Street attacks.
Over the last two days, we’ve told you about two separate incidents where women have allegedly been attacked by the same man on Broad Street, the man shown in the below photo, which was taken by one of the victims immediately after he punched her.
One incident occurred at Broad and Arch streets and the other at the Erie station on the Broad Street Subway. Both attacks happened in broad daylight, and in both cases, the man has not stolen anything from them. He’s simply punched them and then run away. Some have asked on Reddit and on Facebook whether this is evidence of the so-called “Knockout Game” arriving in Philadelphia. Well, now we have obtained a video.
The surveillance footage was provided to Philadelphia magazine by SEPTA Police and shows the assault at the Erie station. Watch it for yourself. The woman, a Temple med student, is seen walking through the station. She is attacked from behind. The man who hits her immediately runs away, making no apparent attempt to steal anything from her. Like the man in the photo, he is wearing a dark hat and jacket and a scarf. The victim in the video tells me she is certain it is the same man from the photo.
So is this evidence of the Knockout Game in Philadelphia? Like the Knockout Game, the attacks come from out of nowhere and seemingly have no real purpose. Like the Knockout Game — or at least the incidents of it that have been widely publicized in the media this week — the perpetrator is African American and the victims are white. But who knows?
Whatever it is, it’s “disconcerting,” says SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel. “It’s certainly a random strike on a female rider. He doesn’t reach for her bag or her phone,” observes Nestel. “He reaches in to punch her and then immediately leaves and takes off running. It’s bizarre behavior.”
Bizarre indeed. And scary, whether this is the Knockout Game or not. Nestel says that SEPTA Police are looking through other surveillance footage to try to obtain a clear image of the man and confirm that it is the same man from the photo. And the Philadelphia Police Department continues to investigate.
In the meantime, be careful out there.
Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter.