A pair of Asian high school students traveling to their schools fell victims to separate attacks by the same suspect in Philadelphia’s subway system earlier this month.
The first incident occurred at the Walnut-Locust Station at around 7 a.m. on Sept. 9. The victim, a 17-year-old female Central High School student, was grabbed by the throat and slammed to the ground.
The second incident occurred at the City Hall Station at 7:35 a.m. on Sept. 13. This time, a 13-year-old female Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School student was repeatedly punched on the face and body.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) Transit Police said both incidents were unprovoked. Neither victim suffered serious physical injuries.
Detectives used surveillance videos to track the suspect’s travels. He has not been identified but was reported to be a 27-year-old man.
“We had two assaults in the span of four days. It became readily apparent after the second incident that we were dealing with the same suspect,” Acting SEPTA Police Chief Charles Lawson told KYW Newsradio.
Both teenage girls were unable to report the attacks until they reached their schools. Due to their similar race, police are looking at the cases as possible hate crimes.
“The pattern between both victims were [sic] they were Asian students,” Lawson told WPVI. “There was no verbalization between the victims and the suspect at all, so it makes it a little harder to pinpoint a specific reason.”
The attacks have since prompted a boost in police presence in the subway system. Additional officers and outreach personnel are now accessible from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and the “evening rush hour,” Lawson said.
The suspect remains at large. Anyone with information is urged to contact Transit Police.
Featured Image via SEPTA Transit Police