NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Police say a man accused of pulling the emergency brakes on subway trains and causing delays for thousands of riders is now under arrest.
Isaiah Thompson was charged early Friday morning with reckless endangerment, criminal trespass and public lewdness.
As CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reports, the 23-year-old has been arrested 17 times before.
Last year, Thompson was arrested for hanging onto the side of a C train in Brooklyn. He was also arrested in a subway slashing.
In the latest incident, police say he pulled the emergency brakes on a northbound 2 train during Tuesday’s evening rush.
The MTA says it’s a growing problem that’s mainly affecting the 2 and 4 lines. It’s happened as many as 40 times since the start of the year, but it’s become more frequent in the last two months, causing unexpected delays across 700 trains.
“I am relieved that police now have a suspect in this case, and we will do everything in our power to facilitate their investigation. Let this be a reminder that anyone who intentionally disrupts the subway, endangering our employees and customers, will be sought by the police and caught. If this person is indeed found to be responsible for breaking into trains and pulling emergency brakes dozens of times he should face a lengthy prison term and the strictest possible penalties,” Transit Authority President Andy Byford said in a statement Friday. “In addition, as we said at our May board meeting, these incidents illustrate why the law needs to allow recidivists who repeatedly target subway customers or employees to be banned from the property. I want to thank the NYPD for their hard work in this ongoing investigation and our customers for their concern and their tips.”
Straphanger Bunny Hirsch believes she may have been on one of the affected train.
“Luckily, I wasn’t in a hurry, but that’s horrible if you’re going to work,” she told Cline-Thomas.
The emergency brakes are only accessible with a key, and there haven’t been any signs of forced entry. MTA officials say that means the person responsible somehow got ahold of the keys to access the brakes.
“This is life or death stuff involving really complicated, dangerous machinery that could endanger the lives of transit workers just doing their jobs and our customers. It’s serious,” MTA Chairman Pat Foye said earlier this week.
Police have deployed extra officers to the subway system in order to ride the rails and investigate these incidents.