Officials discussed safety tips and ways riders can report crimes days after a woman was raped on a SEPTA train.
A news conference was held at the 69th Street Transportation Center Monday to discuss how riders can quickly get in touch with police if they see something that requires an emergency response, including a display showing how to use the emergency call button on-board Market-Frankford Line trains.
On Wednesday around 11 p.m., a woman was raped on a SEPTA Market-Frankford elevated train in Upper Darby while other riders looked on or recorded on their phones but did not call 911, authorities said.
Police also said at some point the woman was unconscious during the rape.
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A suspect, identified as Fiston Ngoy, 35, who is believed to be a homeless man, was arrested about three minutes later at the 69th Street Transportation Center, investigators said. He is charged with rape, aggravated indecent assault and related counts, according to Delaware County court records.
Court documents don't list a defense attorney, and a listed number for him couldn't be found Saturday.
Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt of the Upper Darby Police Department said the assault was captured on surveillance video and he was shocked after watching the footage that showed other riders on the train at the time who did not stop the attack or call police.
The victim was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. Berhardt said the woman did not know her attacker.
The arrest occurred after the westbound train arrived at the station. Both SEPTA and Upper Darby employees said it appears from surveillance video that other riders on the train could have called 911 to alert police.
"It's disturbing that there were definitely people on the El and no one did anything to intervene or help this woman," Bernhardt said, referring to the Market-Frankford Elevated Line that runs between Upper Darby and Frankford in Lower Northeast Philadelphia.
He continued, “It speaks to where we are in society; I mean, who would allow something like that to take place? So it’s troubling."
SEPTA issued a statement calling it a “horrific act" and urging anyone witnessing such such an attack to report it to authorities.
"The assault was observed by a SEPTA employee, who called 911, enabling SEPTA officers to respond immediately and apprehend the suspect in the act," SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch said in a statement. "There were other people on the train who witnessed this horrific act, and it may have been stopped sooner if a rider called 911. SEPTA urges anyone who observes a crime being committed or any dangerous situation occurring to report it. Anyone witnessing an emergency should immediately call 911."
During Monday's news conference, SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel said every train car is equipped with an emergency system that allows riders to communicate with an employee so that they can let them know what's going on. Riders can also download the Transit Watch app, which allows people to anonymously report a crime.
"Riders sometimes don't know when to contact the police," Nestel said. "When they see inappropriate behavior, behavior that you wouldn't want your 10-year-old to see, call the police."