Sunday, October 31, 2004


Commuters on the 4:30am 113 to Marcus Hook got more than they baragined for last week following a serious assault on the operator at 69 St.

Millbourne and Upper Darby police officers arrested a 23 year old Philadelphia man after he allegedly attempted to hijack a 113 bus early Thursday morning, the Delaware County Daily Times reports.

The alleged assailant, identified as Sekou S. Williams, 23, of the 5400 block of Chester Avenue, Philadelphia, was apprehended by a another SEPTA employee who came to the driver’s aid after being summoned by two commuters.

SEPTA police, Millbourne police and Upper Darby police responded to the call of an assault in progress on the Route 113 bus at 4:29 a.m. outside the south terminal, 69th and Market streets.

Millbourne Officer Maria Hillanbrand arrived first and observed SEPTA porter Dave Evans restraining Williams on the ground next to the bus.

The female driver told Officer Joseph Dougherty she was seated on the 113 Marcus Hook bus when the defendant approached and allegedly opened the driver’s-side vent window, reached in, opened the passenger’s-side door and got onto the bus.

"She drove the bus approximately 75 feet, hoping to get closer to the terminal where someone might help her," Dougherty wrote in the affidavit about the driver. "The woman stopped the bus a short distance away, and Williams dragged her from the bus, where she fell to the ground."

Williams re-entered the bus and attempted to drive away," but was unsuccessful and allegedly assaulted the driver again, "punching her numerous times in the face, head and upper body. She curled into a fetal position, covering her face with her hands, until Evans came to her aid."

The driver suffered injuries to her right cheek, lips, right hand and right shoulder. She was taken to Delaware County Memorial Hospital, where she was treated and released.
The first question that has to pop into one's mind is this: How did a Millbourne police officer end being the first to arrive at the scene of a crime at a SEPTA facility in Upper Darby?

Beside the fact that Millbourne police are in Upper Darby fairly regularly because of the geography of that area (it's basically a postage stamp size borough surrounded by Upper Darby) and that most arrests made by Millbourne police are processed in Upper Darby, it doesn't seem that unusual.

That said, this would also lead to a question of adequate staffing by SEPTA police, considering that you do have buses running into and out of the terminal 24/7. Not too long ago, I received an email from an SEPTA police insider who says that there are only 8 to 10 officers to cover the entire system between 11pm and 7am. Obviously, that's due to the El and Broad Street Subway not running, but still that's a lot of territory for only 10 officers to cover. From past experiences in having to take a late night 65 bus to Overbrook to catch the R5, SEPTA police coverage at 69 St Terminal - which is supposed to be a major hub, I might add - is spotty at best.

Meanwhile, the processing of Williams didn't quite go as smoothly for Upper Darby police...

While Williams was awaiting arraignment in a holding cell at the Upper Darby Police Station, he stripped naked and refused to get dressed again. This did not prevent him from being presented with a criminal complaint by Pennsylvania state constables.
Insert your own joke here...

He is facing charges of robbery of a motor vehicle, robbery, simple and aggravated assault, receiving stolen property, unlawful restraint, terroristic threats, theft and harassment.

Bail was set at $30,000 pending a preliminary hearing Monday in district court.
Delaware County Daily Times
The aggravated assault charge is most likely an enhanced charge, since attacks on operators of transit vehicles are covered under a separate charge in Pennsylvania (this is based upon what I've seen on buses in other parts of the state, particularly Reading). In New Jersey, NJTransit operators are protected under a similar statute that calls for a 5-to-10 year jail term upon conviction for assaulting an NJT bus or rail operator.

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