Philadelphia Subway Attack: Why police didn't immediately release details of assault

Surveillance footage of a man who allegedly threw a woman on the subway tracks at a Philadelphia station
CBS Philly

(CBS/AP) PHILADELPHIA - Authorities who arrested the Philadelphia man accused of throwing a woman on the subway tracks Tuesday said they didn't release information about the attack until two days later because they didn't want to compromise the investigation.

Police announced the arrest of 37-year-old William Clark on Thursday, who is facing charges of aggravated assault, theft and related counts. He was arraigned overnight and is being held on $2 million bail.

Surveillance video caught a man approaching the woman sitting on a bench Tuesday at a subway station in the city's Chinatown neighborhood. Investigators said he asked her for a lighter before grabbing her by the neck and then punching her.

The video showed the man grabbing the victim by her feet, dragging her along the platform and then throwing her on the tracks as she screamed. Police said the suspect walked away with her cellphone, but the woman was able to get back up onto the platform with only bruises and cuts.

Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority said they didn't release information about the attack until Thursday because they identified the suspect by his distinctive jacket, which has one red sleeve, one aqua sleeve and a Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resorts logo on it. Authorities said they didn't want to compromise the investigation by giving a description.

SEPTA police chief Thomas Nestel called the decision not to release the description of the jacket earlier "very, very difficult," but said police thought it was their best chance to catch the suspect and didn't want him to take it off.

"That was our best lead," Nestel said Friday. "That was the most likely item that was going to help us solve this."

Authorities said Clark was arrested around 2:30 p.m. Thursday at a plaza near City Hall. A SEPTA officer identified him because he was wearing the same jacket, Nestel said, which was visible under another jacket. He resisted but was arrested and the victim's cellphone was recovered.

Nestel said it doesn't appear the suspect knew the victim and investigators believe he may have mental health issues.

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