On Tuesday, March 3, at approximately 8:30PM, a Santa Monica resident was stabbed while commuting on the Metro Expo Line. According to passengers who were present, an unruly group of four individuals was riding the train to Santa Monica with a shopping cart full of liquor, and appeared intoxicated. When another passenger began to record them, they became aggressive. The situation quickly escalated which resulted in passengers being punched, with one man suffering a broken finger and local architect, Santa Monica Planning Commission Chair, Gwynne Pugh, getting stabbed in the leg.
Video by Zoe Muntaner
As seen in footage recorded by passenger Zoe Muntaner, it took only seconds for the stabbing to occur, and what felt like an eternity for police to arrive and get the situation under control. Four minors were taken into custody, and according to the LAPD, two teens are facing assault with a deadly weapon charges, while one teen is charged with battery against a police officer, and the fourth is charged with causing a disturbance on a train.
The Metro needs better security. Period.
This was not the first incident of violence on the Metro Expo Line. However, because most attacks aren’t filmed and rarely make the news, residents typically only learn of these incidents via word of mouth or social media.
We recently spoke to a local resident who was also stabbed on the Expo line about 18 months ago. He wished to remain anonymous, but we will call him “Sam.” Sam was taking the Metro from DTLA to Santa Monica when a young transient (whom he later learned was from Georgia) began to stare him down while holding a bottle of vodka. He smashed the bottle on the side of Sam’s head, which caused the bottle to break, and proceeded to use the broken neck of the bottle to stab Sam in his forehead.
Sam suffered lacerations and received 7 staples to the left side of his head and 4 to his forehead. Sam’s case is still pending (so he was unable to provide additional information or photos), but his attacker has been released while he awaits trial. The transient also attacked an elderly security guard at LAX and is now alleging that he acted in self defense when he attacked Sam on the train.
Last August, a group of teens attacked and robbed another group of teens who were taking the Metro home from Santa Monica. The attack was so severe that one of the victims suffered a small brain hemorrhage and a broken jaw, and another teen suffered a broken nose.
Within 18 months, we have experienced three very serious attacks on our Metro Expo Line in the Santa Monica area, and these are only the ones that we know about.
“The Crime Train”
The Metro Expo line, which runs from Downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica has been dubbed by residents as “the crime train.” Many locals attribute the increase in crime that we are experiencing in Santa Monica to the train making criminals more mobile, and allowing them to commute to our city more easily. In addition, the train is currently on the honor system, and it’s no secret that many individuals hop on without paying. There is also very little enforcement of the rules, and the conditions of the train are unsanitary (who was the genius who chose to install cloth seats?). Passengers often send us footage or stories of individuals masturbating, smoking, using drugs, drinking, or being aggressive on the Metro.
The video below was submitted by a local Santa Monica commuter who witnessed a man steps away openly masturbating on the train.
Last year, CBS news reported a disturbing incident where a male passenger exposed himself and began masturbating feet from a female passenger, while looking her in the eye. She recorded the incident and alerted the conductor, which prompted the man to exit the train. He was not apprehended.
One of our Instagram followers recorded a passenger casually smoking on the Expo to Santa Monica on March 12th, days after the stabbing incident.
Another Instagram follower witnessed this clearly unstable man screaming at his reflection while commuting earlier this month.
A Mobile Homeless Shelter
There’s no denying the homelessness issues in Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Unfortunately, the train has turned into a shelter on wheels where the homeless hang out while being carted back and forth between downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica.
Video by Jerome Maxx
It’s a sad situation, which not only creates unsafe and unsanitary conditions for the homeless, but also for the passengers. Public transit shouldn’t be used to warehouse the homeless. Our leaders rake in millions allegedly meant to provide services to get the homeless off the streets. Yet they allow them to take over our public transportation without providing any additional safety or sanitation measures to protect those who rely on it to get around.
The stabbing last week was not an isolated incident. The crime, unsanitary conditions and safety issues of the Metro, specifically the Expo line, are well documented. In one of the country’s largest cities with one of the highest costs of living, why are basic safety measures so severely lacking in a public transit system that is relied on by so many? What if the passengers on the train were unable to stop the aggressive individuals from continuing with the latest attack before police arrived? The response time for the stabbing incident was dangerously inadequate and further highlights the need for more stringent safety measures on the train (despite claims by the LAPD). At the minimum, there should be enforcement of basic rules of conduct and laws, requirements that everyone pays the fare, and an armed guard at every stop. Why should residents, who are constantly encouraged to use mass transit and forego driving for the sake of the environment, be subjected to such risks simply by taking the train?
We should not let this incident, or any of the others, get buried in the headlines. Have you experienced unsanitary or unsafe conditions, been a victim to, or witnessed crime on the Metro? Please share your stories with us.
All subjects of postings herein are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law or administrative action, and any and all crimes are alleged until a court or regulatory agency determines otherwise.