By: Steve Tawa, and Anita Oh
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Several arrests have been made in connection with a brawl that happened last week inside the Race-Vine subway SEPTA station.
SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel announced that 11 teenagers have been arrested following the assault that occurred last Thursday which was caught on video.
Nestel said that seven suspects were taken into custody at Ben Franklin High School, one was arrested at the Franklin Learning Center, and another was arrested following a foot chase in North Philadelphia. A tenth person was taken into custody during the press conference.
Late Thursday night, authorities said an eleventh teen surrendered to police.
Officers are waiting for an arrest warrant for an 18-year-old Ben Franklin student — the only one who would be charged as an adult.
Nestel said decent children are doing things they normally won’t do when they are in large groups and that it’s becoming a city-wide problem.
“The problem that we are having right now is school dismissal time has become a period for youth violence,” the SEPTA police chief said. “We have kids causing pain and fear among other kids.”
Cellphone video shows a group of teens violently punching and stomping on victims’ heads around 3:45 p.m. on March 16.
Authorities believe the incident started as a snowball fight and escalated into a violent brawl inside the subway station.
The teens face aggravated assault, as well as robbery charges for allegedly taking the victims’ electronics.
On Thursday, officers arrive at Ben Franklin High School to serve arrest warrants, but immediately after arrival, police say that someone pulled the fire alarm, likely as a ruse.
“They are in groups and packs on buses, fighting. I don’t want to say it’s Philly. But it happens here a lot,” said Khalitah Gardner, a regular SEPTA rider.
Nestel added that SEPTA is going to start having officers riding every train when school is dismissed in an effort to stop these group brawls.
“This is a significant problem,” Nestel said.
SEPTA also plans to roll out a text line, which would allow the public to quickly notify police of incidents like these.
“This is not a SEPTA problem. This is a Philadelphia problem with our youth,” he said.
Nestel is urging parents to help by knowing where their kids are and who they are with, especially after school.
Lucian Martin, a regular SEPTA rider, agrees.
“I just think it starts with the parents and the family and if people would take a little bit more care of their kids and how they raise them, I think things would be a little bit better,” the Germantown resident said.
All the suspects are being charged with aggravated assault and robbery.