SAN FRANCISCO - A BART passenger was attacked and sexually assaulted while riding a train in broad daylight.
This happened on the Richmond-Millbrae line Wednesday morning.
The victim is a resident of Richmond, and did not want to be identified for her safety. She said she got on BART at Richmond Station Wednesday morning to go to her job in San Francisco. It was 11:30 a.m. and the train car she entered was empty.
She told KTVU, "About a minute in, just sitting down, I felt somebody behind me. I was in a solo seat and they were able to fully go behind me and grab my neck."
At first the woman thought someone was trying to rob her. Then she felt a hand down her shirt.
"That’s when I realized, oh he doesn’t want my phone, he wants my body. He started putting his hands down my shirt and I started fighting with everything I had."
The woman said she started screaming and swinging her arms. She said her attacker punched her in the face. He put his hand over her mouth and she bit his finger until it bled.
"I realized this was about survival at this moment and honestly he’d have to kill me if he was going to rape me," she said. "That’s all I could think about is if my family finds me dead at least I tried. And they would know that I tried my hardest."
The attacker finally released the woman as they approached the El Cerrito Del Norte station. She took pictures of the man and called police.
"I was banging on the windows as we were pulling into the station and then everybody was seeing what was happening, so people started pointing," said the woman.
Ed Alvarez, the BART Chief of Police called the incident "very disturbing. A very unfortunate situation."
Alvarez said they pulled surveillance video from the train and used pictures taken by the victim to identify the suspect. They tracked him down in Richmond. Officers arrested 21-year Ludwin Mazan of San Francisco.
Passengers should feel safe riding BART," said Alvarez. "We have a lot of things in place to make sure people are safe. We have cameras on our train cars, we have cameras on our platforms, we have train operators that are in the cab that can be easily accessed. We have a BART Watch app that allows individuals real time information to our dispatchers."
There are also officers patrolling the stations, although the victim said she did not see an officer at Richmond station or on her train. She was critical of police response and general safety on BART.
She said, "I didn’t think at 11:30 in the morning I would have to be fighting for my life on public transportation that I think is supposed to be safe."