Gun Goes Off at SEPTA Station, Shrapnel Hits Rider Heading to ‘Hunger Games'

Surveillance video shows the incident taking place on the SEPTA platform

A woman on her way to see the new blockbuster film The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is nursing shrapnel wounds after becoming the victim of an accidental shooting at a SEPTA El station.

Shirley Williams, of Wilmington, Del., was sitting on a bench, waiting for a Market-Frankford train at SEPTA's 40th and Market station around 3:15 p.m. on Friday, when she felt a sharp pain in her left cheek.

"I was sitting there, all I heard was a 'boom' and my face started bleeding," she said.

The 21-year-old quickly stood up and went to a SEPTA employee, who told her she was bleeding, she said. Police began investigating and upon watching surveillance video from the platform, realized Williams had been hit by bullet fragments.

"I was just thinking something hit me, like something flew, I don't know," she said.

Williams says she was on her way to meet her cousin and friends so they could catch the latest installment of The Hunger Games at the movies.

In the surveillance video, a man standing close to Williams could be seen rummaging around in his duffel bag and then moments later, the woman quickly reacted.

Police say a gun inside the man's bag fired and sent a bullet careening into the metal bench. The round then ricocheted into the wall, through a trash can and then hit Williams in the face and arm.

The man, who is an Allied Barton security guard, then throws the bag over his shoulder and calmly walks away -- eventually boarding an eastbound train. Police then launched a search for the man.

"We think because of the noises down there, he may have not have known that the gun discharged," said Lt. John Walker.

The man, who has yet to be identified, told police he got home and saw himself on the news and then called 911. He says he didn't know his gun had fired.

Investigators from Philadelphia Police's Southwest Detective Division have brought the man in for questioning. It is currently unclear whether he has a permit for the weapon or whehter he will face charges.

As for Williams, she feels lucky to be alive and has no hard feelings towards the man.

"I'm just happy I'm OK. Happy I have my life and can walk away now," she said.

Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter.

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