Police are asking bystanders to come forward after a subway car full of passengers ignored the cries of a 79-year-old man who was being mugged.
The robbery occurred around 8:30 p.m. Saturday, when the victim, Yusuf Hizel, was on an eastbound train along the Bloor-Danforth line.
According to Hizel, the confrontation began after a man, who was seated beside him, asked for change. Hizel refused, but was then approached by another suspect who asked the same question. When Hizel refused again, he got up to reach for the passenger-assistance alarm — the yellow strip located above the seats on all trains — and was then attacked.
Despite being held down as his wallet was taken, Hizel said none of the onlookers came to his rescue, even as he cried out for help.
“People didn’t have a reaction — they just looked at me,” Hizel said.
“I was frustrated.”
Hizel got off the train and tried to chase down the suspects at Chester station, where a TTC ticket collector called the police.
His wallet was later found outside the station.
Investigators say it is unclear why none of the passengers came to the man’s aid, but are appealing for witnesses to speak to police. They are also using security camera footage to piece together the identities of the muggers.
TTC spokesman Brad Ross reminded the public that the passenger-assistance alarm is silent when pressed. It sounds an alarm only in the cabs of the guard and driver. Transit control is also alerted so it can call police, he said.
Transit records show that nobody hit the alarm during Saturday’s incident.
Transit officials said snatch-and-grabs of iPods, cellphones and other items are common.
However, such a brazen attack on an elderly passenger is “rare,” Ross added.
Hizel says he isn’t sure why he was targeted, but says he will never travel on the subway alone again.
“Somebody should be with me and help me.”
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