Self Defense Tip for BART Users: RUN!!!!

The correct way to respond if a person starts brandishing chainsaws on your train

A man brandishing a chainsaw on BART. Image captured from Twitter
A man brandishing a chainsaw on BART. Image captured from Twitter

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A man was videoed on BART on Monday unboxing and wielding two chainsaws, in addition to threatening to cut the “freaking head off” of nobody in particular.

As was widely reported, the incident was videoed and posted on Twitter.

BART’s communications arm responded that the best “…thing to do is to snap a pic and send it to dispatch via BART Watch App.”

But perhaps the oddest thing about this incident isn’t the guy with the chainsaws–it’s the blasé reactions of the other passengers, including the woman taking the video. Maybe if someone on your train is waving chainsaws and threatening to chop someone’s head off, run and don’t just film it for your social media?

“Treat it like a skunk–go in the other direction,” advised BART Board President Robert Raburn about what to do when confronted with a man brandishing chainsaws, in a phone interview with Streetsblog.

“On your way out of the car, note the car number, and when you’re safe and secure note the situation with a clear description–in this case a suspect with two chainsaws, backwards baseball cap, light shirt, skin type etc.,” continued Raburn.

The good news is passengers did report the incident on the BART Watch App. As a result, police were waiting for the 47-year-old suspect Patrick Bingman at Lake Merritt Station, reports NBC. He was easy for police to spot–he was the only guy coming off the train with chainsaws.BARTWATCHIMAGE

But the incident points to a number of things that are working–and items that still need to be improved–as BART struggles to make its system feel safer.

The cars in BART’s new “fleet of the future,” explained Raburn, have emergency call boxes and are WIFI enabled, with cameras that police can access the moment someone reports a problem. “The cameras would allow officers to see inside the cars… so they can identify what the situation is like inside.” It lets police find a suspect more quickly and see in advance what they’re up against. These WIFI cameras may eventually be added to the older cars. “I don’t think I’d have any opposition on the board to making that retrofit,” said Raburn.

The BART Watch App did its job this time, but riders still need to be able to identify what car they’re in. Unfortunately, the car numbers are marked on the outside of the car (which is of little use to passengers on a moving train) and at both ends, over the doors. Raburn sees an advantage to putting the car number in more locations, such as on the ceiling, so the number is visible even on a fully packed train.

For now though, the best thing people can do, he suggests, is download the BART Watch App and get familiar with it–but please don’t use it to complain about minor offenses, such as eating on the train (Raburn said someone once used it to complain about a passenger who smelled bad). But never hesitate to use it to report dangerous behaviors.

As police officers have suggested in previous posts, try to stay engaged with your surroundings. And make a distinction between someone displaying odd but probably benign behavior versus someone wielding, unpacking, or otherwise fiddling around with a lethal weapon.

In other words, if you see someone holding an ice pick or knife, unboxing a chainsaw, or wielding a pipe, machete, flame-thrower, or gun, forget about posting it on social media–just get the hell out of there, get someplace safe, and call for help.

  • DrunkEngineer

    Bay Area freeways average one shooting per week. Funny how the press never mentions that…

  • Roger R.


  • LazyReader

    Funny how California has more gun control laws than any other state but has more murders than any other state.

  • LazyReader

    Check list of reasons you don’t ride BART
    ❏ Semen covered seats
    ❏ dude defecating on the floor

  • Sean

    I don’t understand people blaming BART for people with mental issues riding their trains. What are they supposed to do? All they can do is catch them after the fact for whatever offense and possibly ban them from the system (which is a prolonged process where you need to work with a judge). So some guy takes a dump on the train, and BART needs to do better? They are a transit agency, not a social worker.

  • Steven H

    Yeah, it’s really weird how the largest state in the country–a state that has 11 million more people than any other state–has more murders than any other state. So weird and funny.

    Of course, California’s per capita murder *rate* is in the middle of the pack–and half that of many other states with really lax gun laws–but that’s not super funny, so it’s not worth mentioning.

  • Roger R.

    “Facts have a liberal bias. You should go with your gut.”–Stephen Colbert. 🙂

  • David

    If BART passengers vacated the area around all the nutjobs who ride the trains, all the trains would be empty. But maybe that’s BART’s plan? Then they won’t have to buy any more cars.

  • basenjibrian

    That’s what I argued with an ex-coworker who opined loudly that he would never ride BART. Meanwhile, he commuted 45 miles each direction on “Death Alley” I-80 every day. People don’t always assess risk very rationally. For every “wilding” gang of minority youth (his bugaboo) there are five soccer moms doing their nails while texting in their massive “luxury SUVs”.

  • basenjibrian

    Damn. What an amazing choice of user name. I assume it means you DON’T read and receive all of your information on the world from Breitbart and obscure ammosexual Reddits?

  • Warren Trout

    I thought you San Francisco people were supposed to be smart! Lol you’re idiots

  • Warren Trout

    Deafening roar
    Drug dealers

  • mzMelanin

    BART stands for Bay Area transit. The entire Bay Area doesn’t just consist of San Francisco.Lake Merritt is in Oakland. Now who’s the idiot?