Philadelphia police searched Monday for a bike-riding armed man in a NASA sweatshirt that they say sexually assaulted a woman on a SEPTA Broad Street Line subway platform early in the morning. Investigators said the woman’s boyfriend was forced to watch the assault.
Police released a pair of surveillance images that show the “violent offender” wanted in the sex assault that took place on a bench after 4:30 a.m. on July 18 in the Snyder subway station in South Philadelphia.
“It was a traumatic event that occurred down on that platform,” Capt. James Kearney, commanding officer of the Special Victims Unit, said.
The 40-year-old woman told police when they arrived around 4:45 a.m. that she was raped on the SEPTA platform
She said that she was with a boyfriend trying on some clothing ahead of the attack, Kearney said. The woman first arrived to the subway platform around 4 a.m.
The boyfriend first saw the man in the NASA sweatshirt, but briefly lost track of him before the attack, Kearney said. The attacker pointed a gun at the woman’s boyfriend and at her back. He then demanded sex, Kearney said.
The boyfriend could be seen in surveillance video with his hands up. “He was made to watch,” Kearney said.
The man carried a black handgun with a green slide and an extended magazine during the attack and rode a bicycle in the underground, police said.
Police recovered DNA at the scene that was being processed, Kearney said.
After the attack, the woman and her boyfriend came out of the subway and called police, investigators said.
It was unclear if the gates to the station were actually open at the time of the attack, Kearney said.
The SEPTA media relations team would only confirm that an incident occurred in the subway station and that Philly police and and SVU were leading the investigation.
Investigators described the attacker as being in his mid 20s, standing around 5-foot, 6-inches tall, weighing about 160 pounds, with light brown or hazel eyes who wore a gray NASA hooded sweatshirt, black pants, white sneakers and medical mask.
Police warned anyone who spots the attacker not to approach but to call 911 immediately.