Aunt speaks out after niece attacked on SEPTA train: 'She did the right thing'

The attack happened after school Wednesday on the Broad Street Line.

Annie McCormick Image
Friday, November 19, 2021
Aunt speaks out after niece beaten on SEPTA: 'She did the right thing'
Authorities are investigating after video captured a violent assault involving students on SEPTA's Broad Street Line.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The family of the Asian eighteen-year-old Central High School student brutally beaten while defending four young Asian students on Wednesday said she needs to be commended for her bravery.

Mei Lu, the victim's aunt, says her niece was defending four ninth-grade boys on the Broad Street Line when four African American girls began bullying them.

The District Attorney approved charges against the alleged attackers for charges related to ethnic intimidation, conspiracy, and assault. Authorities say the suspects are juveniles ages 13-16.

Three of the four suspects were in custody as of Friday evening.

The family said they did not want to share the victim's name at this time but eventually would like her to speak out about the attack.

"The eyes, the body, her hand, she was slammed on the door, kicked multiple times," Lu said as she described the serious injuries.

The victim's mother shared a close-up photo of the injuries to the teen's eye.

Lu said her niece stood up to defend the students because they are younger than her.

"I ask her, 'Because you think the boys are Asian you want to protect your own ethnicity?' And she said, 'No. No matter if they're Asian, African American, Caucasian, I am doing the right thing.'"

The Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation held a press conference on Friday with the family and officials, including Congressman Dwight Evans (D-PA-3rd).

Lu spoke along with Executive Director John Chin. They agreed they support the ethnic intimidation charges but also feel there needs to be a broader message about safety.

"There is no tolerance, zero tolerance, for violence especially against students in the public school system. And especially for immigrant students whether we are Black, Asian, Hispanic, it doesn't matter where we come from," said Chin.

Authorities are investigating after video captured a violent assault involving students on SEPTA's Broad Street Line.

Chin said he plans on taking a survey of abuse against Philadelphia school children from immigrant families and bringing it to the school district.

Authorities have not said which schools the suspects attend but a spokesperson for The Philadelphia School District has said they do not attend a school within the district.

The family's attorney, Dave Bahuriak, said they are considering a lawsuit against the City of Philadelphia for failing to protect children going to and from school on SEPTA.

"Why does an eighteen-year-old high school girl have to do what the city has failed to do?" said Bahuriak.

SEPTA said they are increasing their police presence on the Broad Street Line during afternoon dismissal of Philadelphia schools.

Action News spoke to Central High School students about increased security on the train.

"Sometimes police presence can scare some people of different ethnicities other than Asian but it could help," said one student who did not want to give her name.

Selena Chen, an eleventh grader who rides the Broad Street Line to and from Central High School, said, "Until recently there wasn't a lot of police officers, and it's a really dangerous time out here. This isn't the first attack that happened."