SEPTA Transit Police Chief Thomas Nestel detailed Tuesday how a Broad Street Line passenger alerted authorities Monday night to a male passenger carrying a gun, and how police tracked down that man and discovered he was carrying more than just one weapon.
"This is a great example of when people are riding mass transit that when they see something that is suspicious they say something," Nestel said. "It's also about something being really weird."
A female passenger noticed a bulge on 52-year-old Darryl Donahue's hip around 10 p.m. and covertly snapped a photo with her cell phone and forwarded it to SEPTA.
SEPTA police radio broadcasted to all police on duty and Det. Bryan Carney started inspecting SEPTA's vast video surveillance system.
Carney, who has been with SEPTA police for three years and a detective for a year and a half, tracked the gunman's path to City Hall and went out to find him.
Carney corned Donahue, of Germantown,in LOVE Park and immediately started screaming "Police, show me your hands!" and "Lay on the ground!"
"One of the biggest fears that a police officer has is someone reporting a firearm, seeing that bulge on the hip, and not knowing if that's the only weapon," Carney said.
After a few brief moments of hesitation Donahuestarted to lower. Carney jumped on his back and slapped on the handcuffs.
"They teach you as a police officer always assume that there's more than one weapon," Carney said.
Upon searching the gunman Carney discovered that the firearm on his hip was actually a BB gun. Next to that was a knife. On his left side he found another BB gun and a second knife. In the man's backpack he found two more BB guns and a meat cleaver.
"He is not a butcher," Nestel said. "He does not have a legal reason to be carrying around knives on a city street."
Carney said Donahueseemed authentically interested in "self defense" and "just trying to stay alive out there."
"And I guess he felt that this was the way to go about it," Carney said, "but he was very with it."
"I'm much more cynical," Nestel said. "Because you don't protect yourself with a BB gun. In my mind, this is a robber who just hadn't robbed yet. And we interrupted that crime."
Nestel said transit police do not seize many weapons.
"This is my first meat cleaver," he said.
Nestel said SEPTA police have stopped Donahuebefore for carrying guns and knives in 2009. He was charged in the past, but Nestel wasn't sure whether or not he was convicted.
Carrying BB guns and a knife in Philadelphia is illegal. Nestel said it's a summary offense.
"So it may very well be that this will be resolved summary citations," Nestel said. "We'll see."
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