PHILADELPHIA – January 17, 2013 (WPVI) — Police have identified the man charged with attacking a woman in a SEPTA subway – throwing her onto the tracks.
The suspect is identified as 36-year-old William Clark, whose last known address is along the 1300 block of Fitzwater Street. Clark is charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person, robbery, theft and receiving stolen property.
Clark was arraigned overnight and is currently being held on $2-million bail.
Police say at approximately 3:20 p.m. Tuesday, a 23-year-old woman walked down to the Broad-Ridge Spur Line subway platform at 8th and Race streets, where she observed a man sitting on a bench.
Surveillance cameras were rolling as the woman walked past the man, later identified as Clark, and sat on a set of benches next to him. He then got up and approached the woman, asking if she knew what time the train was coming, and if she had a lighter.
The woman provided Clark with a lighter. He then handed the lighter back to her, and it was when she went to place the lighter in her jacket pocket that Clark lunged at the woman.
He grabbed the victim by the neck and began punching her in the face and head. The suspect then grabbed the woman by both legs, dragged her across the platform and threw her onto the train tracks.
Clark then picked up the cell phone that the victim had dropped in the struggle, and casually walked away.
“Thank God she wasn’t knocked unconscious in that track area,” SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel said.
Nestel says, amazingly, the woman climbed off the tracks and suffered only bumps and bruises to her head and face.
Police tell Action News they quickly distributed the suspect’s surveillance photo to hundreds of local law enforcement officers and increased manpower on the platforms, but did not tell the public about the violent man roaming the streets.
The chief says he made the risky decision to withhold the information because the suspect was wearing a very distinct jacket and he did not want to jeopardize the case.
It took just about 48 hours until police caught the suspect at 2:30 p.m. Thursday in the area of 15th Street and JFK Boulevard wearing the same unique jacket.
SEPTA police say it was in the West Plaza Station where officers observed a man who fit the description of the suspect wanted for the assault. They stopped the male, who officers say would only give his name, William Clark, but provided no further information.
Police say the yellow hooded sweatshirt Clark was wearing was covering a multi colored leather jacket with the words ‘TRUMP TAJ MAHAL CASINO RESORTS’ – the same jacket worn by the suspect wanted for the assault.
Clark resisted arrest, but was ultimately taken into custody.
Officers discovered Clark had a white Cricket cell phone in his possession, which was identified as the same phone taken in the assault.
“I really wanted to catch this guy and I truly felt that the best way to do that was to hold onto information about his jacket and put as many officers as I could to catch him and it worked. It worked,” Nestel said.
Police are still looking into the suspect’s motive, but believe this to be mental health related.