UPPER DARBY, Pa. (CBS) — A 28-year-old man is in custody after Upper Darby police say he sexually assaulted a woman inside a SEPTA train terminal. Edwin Allen, of Philadelphia, is currently in custody.
This was a classic case of being in the right place at the right time.READ MORE: First Confirmed Case Of COVID-19 Omicron Variant Reported In Philadelphia, New Jersey
“Something this high-profile, I’ve never come across something like this before,” SEPTA Police Officer Thomas Schiliro said.
Schiliro has been with the department for four years. He says his police work has never been more important than it was on Wednesday evening. He was steps away from where a woman was being sexually assaulted at 69th Street Transportation Center.
“I was close. I heard screaming from inside the terminal. I went upstairs to investigate and when I arrived I saw the victim and a couple other members of the public pointing out the suspect,” Schirilo said. “I quickly focused in on the suspect and was able to cut off his exit from the terminal and place him into custody.”
Police say a woman was riding on the El and fell asleep. When she woke up, she exited the train and went into the concourse and asked the suspect for help finding the train to get back into the city.
Police say 28-year-old Edwin Allen offered to help the woman, but instead ripped her clothes off, groped and assaulted her.
While SEPTA has nearly 2,000 surveillance cameras in its system, Schirilo was there when he was needed most.
“You kind of just have to block out the noise. You don’t really have time to think. You think, ‘bad guy, I have to get him,’ intervene however I can,” Schirilo said.READ MORE: Family Of Fallen Delaware County Firefighter Has Mortgage Fully Paid Off
On Thursday night, CBS3 noticed several officers were seen patrolling that same station.
Safety on SEPTA is top of mind for riders who say recent incidents show the need for more patrols.
LaTonya Grant takes SEPTA to and from work and sometimes even saves to catch an Uber. She would like to see more officers at all times.
“Late at night no, mid-day maybe ’cause it’s a lot more SEPTA police presence during that time. Real late at night, it’s not and I think that’s when they should beef it up,” Grant said.
“It’s concerning but as an officer, the only thing you can do is try to make yourself more visible in whatever way possible,” Schirilo said.
Allen has a sex conviction on his record in Philadelphia and was on SEPTA police’s radar as a serial sexual attacker.
Schirilo is stationed at 69th Street, and he’s going back on duty there Thursday night.
CBS3 reached out to SEPTA to see if more officers would be added to and around trains after recent attacks. We are still waiting to hear back.MORE NEWS: Mother Of Ahmir Jones, Teen Killed Protecting Girlfriend During Robbery Near Temple University, Speaks Out
CBS3’s Howard Monroe and Jasmine Payoute contributed to this report.