10 DC Metro passengers watch rider get stabbed to death; what would you do?

A 25-year-old man was robbed, beaten, kicked and stabbed to death 30 or 40 times by a teenager, as about 10 passengers on the Washington, D.C., Metro train watched in terror and horror.

After the 18-year-old finished stomping and stabbing the life out of Kevin Joseph Sutherland, he began demanding money and wallets from some of the other passengers. He then got off at the next stop.

No more than three minutes had passed. It takes about three minutes to get from Fullerton to North/Clybourn on the Red Line.

From the riveting Washington Post story on the July 4 murder:

“We were in a moving train,” said a 52-year-old woman, who spoke on the condition that she not be named because she is both a victim and a witness to a crime. “You’re not really sure what you need to do. . . . This man is holding a bloody knife. I don’t think anyone was going to try and stop him.”

The Chicago Tribune reports that all the Internet heroes are weighing in about how they would have singlehandedly stopped this horrific crime. One said he would have hit the assailant with his backpack; another would have used his “defensive keychain (Monkey fist)”; and a female “would yell at him.” And of course some of those heroes opined that if only concealed carry were allowed on the CTA, one good shot could have stopped him.

All those Internet heroes out there, who weren’t on the train. Oh, so brave!

But seriously, ask yourself, “What would you do?” I like to think that I would do something, but I just honestly don’t know. Especially since the young punk was menacing other passengers after (allegedly) killing Sutherland. I’d like to think that at least I would press the call button, but you have to be on the right end of the rail car.

So what would you do?


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  • So far 62% would hit the Call Button, and by the time anyone responds -- I'M DEAD...... THANKS A LOT FOLKS

  • *I* would've emptied my clip in his a$$.

    - - -

    Seriously, I'm with Kevin. I'm not sure what I would've done, but when I consider my age, size, and ability to fight, I sure wouldn't have been comfortable taking him on 1-on-1, especially since he was armed and -- for whatever reason -- fearless.

    - - -

    The population of the train is interesting. A sufficient show of force (even if unarmed) has often been shown to deter even knife-wielding types. Not sure there was enough of that among the ten passengers even if organized ...

  • Maybe the CTA could provide some guidance to passengers as to what to do in various emergency or semi-emergency situations. Whom to contact, and how. The communication options are different from what they used to be, but haven't always been made clear.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    The CTA would probably say to call the operator and/or call 911. Certainly neither they nor the police would advocate you put yourself in harm's way to stop the attack.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    That's a starting point. So, do you do both? How do you explain it to 911? What info do they need besides "I'm on a Red Line train and..." Or should the train operator call 911...is he or she able to do that? Should the passenger hit the call button and how do you know where it is? Or could you maybe call or text or tweet an emergency contact at the CTA that might be faster as well as conveying more information? How hard would it be to set this up and let the passengers know? Another question: Is it good for someone to let the attacker know that help has already been called for?

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    1. It shouldn't be that hard to explain it as "I'm on a northbound Red Line train that just left 69th." The police will stop and board the train, if they are going to do anything.
    2. The train operator knows what the train operator is instructed to do.
    3. If you think it is a good idea to let the attacker know and yourself become a target, you don't need advice on that. The attacker will either kill you or pull the cherry and jump off. Remember, they are already too dumb to comprehend that the incident was recorded on security video.

  • In all honesty, I just don't know. One likes to think themselves a hero, but you just never know. And I say this, while sporting the following resume: 1st degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Advanced sash (same thing as a black belt) in Wing Chun Kung Fu.

  • If I had a son, he would look like Kevin Joseph Sutherland.

  • No need to do anything .... according to the Chicago area politician, elected for Springfield representation, there's no need for civilians to be armed or able to protect themselves/others on the Chicago mass transit system ....

    They forced a "No Guns Allowed" into the IL CCW gun laws ...

    Maybe CPD Super McCarthy will add a note to the flowers sent to your funeral - "Sorry - our goof"

  • In reply to Illini Warrior:

    McCarthy only says that guns should be banned for everyone but the cops because Rahm has that foolish idea, that has been proven in most of the world to not work.
    Britain now has a large criminal class that carries guns & at least 25% of British cops are armed at all times.

  • In reply to Illini Warrior:

    What good would CCW do? It takes training and experience to confront a violent person. Not just a piece of paper and a piece.

  • In reply to Peter Bella:

    Do you have *any* idea what is required to get a CCW? Many permit holders spend more time on the range than your typical street cop. There are plenty of recent cases where a CCW holder stopped a crime, or prevented additional mayhem. Of course, you're not going to hear about it in the mainstream media, because it simply doesn't back their agenda do disarm the public.

  • In reply to Illini Warrior:

    Amen. 911: When seconds count, we're only minutes away. Didn't the attacker realize that carrying a knife on the Metro was illegal?

  • Threat assessment needs to be taken by each witness of this crime. How large was the attacker ? How big was the blade of the knife ? Can I at least distract or possibly even take the attacker off his feet with a tackle or a kicking maneuver ? If the answer is yes, then I attempt to intervene.

  • In reply to Chicago Aces:

    And, as the MMA blogger put it, whether you know Krav Maga (which she essentially said was what you said).

  • It would probably only work if a group of passengers got together to "take down" the assailant. Otherwise, press the call button/call 911/yell at bad guy to stop. Is he really gonna stop attacking one person, to come and attack someone else? Stupid idea, right?

  • I would probably keep playing Candy Crush on my cell phone and hope like heck that he gets off the next stop.

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    I really like to think I'd be brave enough to stop a murder in progress. When I imagine such scenarios, I keep telling myself that I'm at a point in my life where it wouldn't matter if I died trying to save a life. It would be worth the risk. I suspect, though, I'd be way too terrified to move or think of a good plan of action. It doesn't seem there would have been enough time to form a committee and vote on a plan of action with a group of likewise terrified strangers. I think the only way to save a life would be to act instantly. Maybe others would join in to help if they saw one person take the lead. It would be a classic fight or flight reaction, not a sit and think it through situation. If you press the button for help, does that stop the train and thus give the killer a chance to wheel around and attack more captive people? It might help catch the killer, but I doubt it would have saved a life.
    Ironically, the last time I visited Chicago I found myself alone on a car with a presumably deranged man who gave me a long lecture about his opinions of recent cases of police killing African Americans and what he wanted to do to me to retaliate for these injustices. It was graphic. In hindsight, I should have gotten off at the next stop, and at least changed cars. But I was, in part, too stunned to move. I also judged, correctly, that a person who talks about doing something is far less likely to act. An actor is far less likely to announce his intentions at length before acting. But the memory of that ride reminds me that sitting in a public place and witnessing something very wrong can be terrifying and immobilizing, despite good intentions.

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