Subway officials believe the offender used a key to enter the train cab, raising questions over whether he knew someone at the transit agency. How the offender obtained the key is one factor being investigated by transit officials.
Officials aid that they were analyzing dozens of incidents since the start of the year that involve factors like brake activations or “surfer” sightings to determine the actual scope of the brake-pulling spree. They are also reviewing security footage and requested photos and videos from riders.
Each time, it was the same method, officials said. A man surfs on the back of the train, then gains access to an operating cabin. He goes inside, pulls the emergency brake and then escapes onto the track and disappears into the darkness. The 2 and 5 lines were his most frequent targets.
The result, Mr. Byford said, is a “double whammy.” The suspect not only stops the train, but when he flees onto the tracks workers have to cut the power to look for him, delaying even more trains.
Mr. Byford said the culprit — or culprits — were not “goofballs” but rather “morons.” He said he wanted harsher penalties for those committing these kinds of crimes. For now, a likely charge would be reckless endangerment.
“I’d like to ban them from the subway,” Mr. Byford said.
According to internal transit authority incident reports obtained by Jalopnik, a news website, train supervisors have spotted the man at least once jumping off the back of the trains, but they have been unable to catch him. He was reported to have pulled the emergency brake on three different trains during a 36-minute span on Tuesday. He also made, the report said, an “obscene gesture” to a train conductor who spotted him.
On Wednesday, Kristin Myers, a reporter for Yahoo Finance, posted a video on Twitter of a man in a baseball hat riding on the back of a Q train. She said she had filmed it at 11:30 a.m. on April 27, at the DeKalb Ave. station in Brooklyn.
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