Reader Mail: Drama on the N

Yesterday I got this on-the-scene report from Reader Colin, but I couldn’t post it right away as I was out of town in Sacramento for a conference, and trying to cut and paste a big email on an iPhone into Movable Type is just impossible.
So, here’s his email. It’s a rather interesting account of one day on the N when one of those “mean scary” strange people board the train (as opposed to harmless strange). Read on:

Hi Greg,
about an hour and a half ago (12:50 p.m., 10/5), I witnessed cops take down a half-naked guy with a ball & chain on the N @ 9th & Irving. here’s how I saw it:
I was on the front car of the N sitting in my usual spot, fifth row from the back on the left-hand side. a woman was sitting in front of me chatting on her phone, between me and the side-facing bench for three, both of us facing backwards.
at 9th & Irving, a big burly gentleman wearing no shirt, no shoes, smelling of the street, and carrying some cardboard and a big black ball & chain sat himself in the middle seat of the side bench, right in my line of sight, about 4 or 5 feet away. after fidgeting with his cardboard and his ball & chain, he leans toward the chatting woman and leans back up, looking her up and down and flashing the sleaziest smile. then he takes his ball & chain and starts doing some tricep presses, and you can tell that thing is heavy from the vibrations it sends as he puts it down. some people are noticing, some people aren’t reacting at all, and a father and son are sitting themselves down to my left, having come from the Academy of Sciences.

then I notice a police officer wearing a bike helmet is also on board and requesting backup before asking,” Hey buddy, what’s going on?” As he’s doing this, he taps phone lady on the shoulder and yanks her toward the front of the train. I’m getting up too and he clears me aside also, and man, that technique they teach at the academy for moving people is damn effective. Pretty quickly, he’s cleared the back half of the train and he’s telling us to get off, and maybe one person does that.
Meanwhile, the backup has arrived and it’s four more officers, who take care of the cardboard and the ball & chain first before wrestling the dude down to the ground. they pat him down, we wait around for around ten minutes, B&C guy is in cuffs in front of On the Run, and the original officer is getting the driver’s info. But before we leave, B&C yells out something that is either gibberish or another language, or maybe a voodoo curse. if only my commute could be like this every day.
anyway, I have to say that I’m impressed with how quickly the police dealt with the situation. I’m not sure if they had just been following this person around before he boarded, but they were on top of the situation from almost the get-go.

If you’ve seen something good, bad, happy, or sad, and think other readers might be curious to know more, feel free to email me and I’ll feature it in a future Reader Mail post.

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3 Responses to Reader Mail: Drama on the N

  1. danielle says:

    Today a crazy shirtless cracked out man got on an outbound N at Church & Duboce… the train was crowded around 5pm, but he managed to pace around the door/accordion area while ranting about I don’t know what. I had my headphones in and placed a sturdy young man between myself and Mr. Crazy.
    Someone called to report the man, albeit to late… he got off the train at UCSF and the cops showed up on the N at 7th. An interesting commute.

  2. jack barry says:

    Muni should have a policy of “positive intervention”, when a nut with a weapon tries to board…. Admittedly, one person’s weapon is another’s “piece of art”… Let it be within the latitude of the operator to make the call. The Ball/Chain guy was within “one hidden voice message” of opening a passenger’s skull.
    Kudos to the SFPD.

  3. What’s scary is that I could totally see this happening and I’m not all that surprised.

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