Identity of "hammer attack" suspect revealed

September 10, 2008 12:47:05 PM PDT
There has been a break in that brutal hammer attack on a SEPTA subway train - one that terrified passengers and mystified just about everyone else. Action News has learned that Thomas Scantling, 26, was arrested late Tuesday night at the Belmont Center for Comprehensive Treatment and was transported to Central Detectives at about 11:20 p.m.

Scantling's last known address is in the 6600 block of Gratz Street in Philadelphia.

Action News has also learned that Scantling has been charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault.

By now the surveillance video is familiar to Action News viewers. In the video the suspect is standing at the door of the subway car asking a young boy to sit down, then he pulls a hammer out of a black and yellow book bag and goes after 20-year-old Dewayne Taylor.

The attack was unprovoked. Taylor had dozed off while listening to his iPod. He was on his way home from work as a lab animal technician at the University of Pennsylvania. It happened at 12:15 a.m. last Thursday. Taylor tells Action News he remembers the attacker chanting in Arabic.

Taylor tells us, "He pulled out a hammer. So, he started swinging the hammer and everything." Taylor was able to escape with a few gashes to his head and a broken finger.

Police released the surveillance video this week and the tip calls started coming in.

Philadelphia Police Captain Sharon Seaborough told reporters, "Because you showed the video, which we really thank you for, we've gotten a lot of phone calls. In fact we've gotten phone calls from people who know this individual."

So far SEPTA has 10 cameras on 36 train cars. They want riders to know, if you commit a crime authorities will be watching.

SEPTA spokesman Richard Maloney says, "The message should go out to 'evil doers' that if you do it on the SEPTA system you're going to be seen, and you're going to be very quickly arrested and this is the case and point."

Action News has been told the suspect has a history of mental health problems and at least 9 prior arrests, including rape, robbery, and drug offenses.

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