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updated: 1/18/2013 7:45 PM

Police: Man threw woman on subway tracks in Philly

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  • William Clark

      William Clark
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- A man has been arrested on charges he grabbed a woman by the feet and threw her onto the tracks at a Philadelphia subway station, police said. The woman managed to get off the tracks on her own and suffered only minor injuries.

Police announced the arrest Thursday, more than two days after the woman was assaulted around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at a subway station in the city's Chinatown neighborhood. The victim had been sitting on a bench when the man asked her what time the train was coming and requested a light for his cigarette, according to investigators. After she obliged and put the lighter back in her coat pocket, police said, the man grabbed her by the neck and began punching her.

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In the assault, which was caught on surveillance video, the man can be seen grabbing the victim by her feet, dragging her along the platform and then throwing her on the tracks as she screamed. The suspect walked away with her cellphone, police said, but the woman was able to get back up onto the platform with only bruises and cuts.

Investigators with the city's police department and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority said they didn't release information about the attack until Thursday because they had 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, and 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."

Philadelphia police identified the suspect as William Clark, 37, of Philadelphia; he faces charges of aggravated assault, theft and related counts.

Clark was arraigned overnight and is being held on $2 million bail.

Clark was arrested around 2:30 p.m. Thursday at a plaza near City Hall, authorities said. 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, police said.

It doesn't appear the suspect knew the victim and investigators believe he may have mental health issues, Nestel said. It wasn't immediately known if he had an attorney.

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