New York – Hoping to catch the person or persons responsible for pulling the emergency brakes on MTA subway trains, disrupting service for thousands of commuters, the NYPD has released surveillance footage showing a person wanted in question with an incident that took place on May 21st.
Police said that the unknown suspect gained access to the rear cab of a northbound 2 train. After opening the back door of the train, he rode on the outside of the car for several stops before pulling the emergency brake at 5:43 PM at the 14th Street and 7th Avenue station. The suspect is a black-haired black man with brown eyes, believed to be 20 to 30 years old, standing 5’9” and weighing approximately 160 pounds. At the time of the incident he was wearing a black Nike t-shirt bearing the words “Swag don’t come cheap,” a black Yankees cap, light colored baggy pants and white and black sneakers.
At an MTA board committee meeting held on Wednesday, MTA chairman Patrick Foye said that similar incidents may have been taking place for several years but that the MTA had been hesitant to publicize the matter for fear of sparking copycats. The brake-pullings have been happening in close proximity to attacks on MTA employees, said Foye.
While older subway trains had exposed emergency brakes, newer models’ brakes are in a locked cab to deter mischief-makers, noted MTA president Andy Byford. Those responsible for the latest rash of attacks have had MTA keys, allowing them to access the brakes and Byford said that his agency is studying the incidents hoping to identify a pattern that would help them catch those responsible.
Foye noted that pulling the emergency brake puts passengers and MTA employees at risk. Both he and Byford have called on the legislature to enact stricter laws that would ban those convicted of serious subway crimes from the system for life.
“The NYPD are all over it,” said Foye. “They’re hopefully going to be able to catch these people and hold them to account for what is a completely unacceptable behavior.”
Jalopnik, a news and opinion site dedicated to transportation issues, reported that 747 trains have been delayed or cancelled because of the brake-pullings since March, delaying tens of thousands of customers. That number includes trains whose brakes have been pulled, as well as others behind them who are also affected by those incidents.
While MTA officials and the NYPD have said that a group of people may be responsible for what is being classified as reckless endangerment, Jalopnik(http://bit.ly/30EbHkt) said that MTA reports have indicated that one person may be behind all of the incidents.
Typically, the suspect has been riding uptown 2 and 5 trains to a major express stop during rush hour, jumping down onto the tracks after pulling the brake, jumped down onto the tracks and crossing to the other side of the platform. In many cases, the suspect is believed to have boarded a train heading in the opposite direction, repeating the pattern a short time later.
Tuesday’s incident reported by the NYPD was just one of several that took place on that day, according to Jalopnik. The suspect is believed to have pulled the emergency brake on three separate trains within a span of just 36 minutes, in one incident making an obscene gesture at a train conductor who spotted him.
At a press conference held yesterday, NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said that an NYPD investigation is ongoing.
“It’s not something I would categorize as common, certainly, hopefully not, but it poses a danger and a risk to people,” said Shea. We will investigate it accordingly and we’ll go from there to determine what the motive is.”
Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Crime Stoppers Hotline by phone at 800-577-TIPS, by text at 247637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577 or online at www.NYPDCrimeStoppers.com.