Watch CBS News

SEPTA Police to target "every criminal code on the books" after violent incidents involving buses

SEPTA police using technology, "every legal means" to crack down on crime on transit system
SEPTA police using technology, "every legal means" to crack down on crime on transit system 02:31

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - The SEPTA Transit Police chief claimed his department will target "every criminal code on the books" after after multiple fatal shootings involving SEPTA buses this week in Philadelphia.

During a joint press conference with Philadelphia police Wednesday morning, SEPTA Transit Police Chief Charles Lawson expressed frustration about recent crime but said he's confident in the steps his department is taking. Lawson said data across criminal categories involving SEPTA buses is down except for gun violence. He added he plans to hire 40 additional SEPTA police officers by the end of the year.

"We use every legal means at our disposal to target illegal gun possession on SEPTA," Lawson said during the event at SEPTA headquarters. "We're going to target individuals concealing their identity. We're going to target fare evasion. We're going to target open drug use. We're going to target every criminal code on the books."

Lawson said the department plans to perform pat-downs when legal. 

Hours later, around 3 p.m. Wednesday, eight teens were shot near a SEPTA bus station in Northeast Philadelphia, at Rising Sun and Cottman avenues. It was the third violent incident on SEPTA this week.

SEPTA Transit Police are reviewing video from that area and assisting Philly police in the investigation. SEPTA said a Route 18 bus and Route 67 bus were struck by multiple gunshots. According to SEPTA, no one on the bus was struck.

Philly police said they will be releasing video from Tuesday's incident on the Route 79 bus on the 1300 block of Snyder Avenue in South Philadelphia that left 37-year-old Carmelo Drayton dead.

Police said the bus was at the intersection of Broad Street and Snyder Avenue when the shooting occurred. Officers were called to the scene around 6:40 p.m.

SEPTA police address recent gun violence involving buses 26:34

SEPTA said the shooter in that incident fled the bus and entered Snyder Station on the Broad Street Line.

On Monday afternoon, five people were shot, one fatally, after police said two people fired into a crowd that was about to board a SEPTA bus near Godfrey and Ogontz Avenues.

Dayemen Taylor, a 17-year-old student at Imhotep Institute Charter High School, was killed in the shooting, and two of his classmates were injured. A 71-year-old woman was struck in the forehead with a bullet but is expected to survive.

And over the weekend, police said a man was killed in the city's Oxford Circle neighborhood after getting into an argument with someone on a SEPTA bus. When the victim got off the bus late Sunday, March 3, he was fatally shot.

SEPTA has access to more than 30,000 cameras around the city, and Lawson said SEPTA relies on that technology to target criminal activity on the nation's sixth largest transportation system. 

Captain Kit Walls oversees the virtual patrol unit, which includes specialists and detectives who monitor the hundreds of thousands of riders on buses and trains each day. 

"Nobody knows that this camera is on," Walls said. "Nobody's alerted that they're being monitored at this time. So whatever happens is happening. And people are not understanding that. We are watching to make sure that you're safe."

Riders also sounded off in late February after two back-to-back violent incidents in train stations.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.