Suspect Arrested in Rash of Subway Brake Pullings That Disrupted Thousands – NBC New York

What to Know

  • The MTA says someone has made a habit of pulling the emergency brakes on subways at the worst possible time: the height of rush hour

  • The NYPD arrested Isaiah Thompson, 23, of Brooklyn early Friday morning in connection with the incidents

  • Police believe Thompson, possible accomplices or even copycats could be responsible for as many as 40 incidents

A 23-year-old Brooklyn man with what police call a penchant for causing havoc was arrested Friday morning, suspected of being the serial subway brake puller.

Isaiah Thompson was arrested at home just before 12:30 a.m. Friday after an outside tip. Authorities say a sergeant also recognized Thompson, who is well-known to police after 17 prior arrests. 

He faces charges of reckless endangerment and criminal trespass after a rash of incidents dating back months that has disrupted thousands of commuters. At a news conference Friday, NYPD officials said Thompson’s motive may have been a simple one – he likes to cause havoc.

Police believe that on at least three occasions this month alone, Thompson rode the back of various subway trains in Manhattan, got into the operator’s car and pulled the emergency brake. 

They believe the suspect could potentially be tied to at least 40 brake-related incidents on trains since March. They are also pursuing the possibility that some of the incidents could be the suspect’s accomplices, or even copycats.

The NYPD says this man is wanted in connection with a subway brake-pulling incident on May 21 on the 2 line at rush hour.
Photo credit: NYPD

The MTA first acknowledged Wednesday that someone has been making a habit of pulling the emergency brakes on subways at the worst possible time: the height of rush hour.

Thousands of riders have already been delayed by the culprit or culprits, who sneak off sometime after bringing trains to a halt, surfing on the back of the cars and getting away via tunnels.

The MTA says whoever is intentionally ruining riders commutes may have been at it for a while now. Complaints from riders on Twitter about a pulled emergency brake go back months.

“It’s stupid. It’s stupid and selfish, and we intend to nail them,” said New York City Transit President Andy Byford.

The emergency brakes being activated are not the ones that all commuters have access to. The wrongdoer is breaking into the operator’s car with keys and pulling that brake, the MTA said. The transit authority has not shared how they believe the offender may have gotten the keys.

The MTA kept initial reports of the brake-pulling scheme quiet so as to avoid copycats.