A man accused of going after a Philadelphia subway rider with a ball-peen hammer, Thomas Scantling, 26, has been in trouble with the law for a long time and has been having mental health problems, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. The assault was captured by a surveillance camera and shown widely on television and the Internet. Police said relatives told them that Scantling has a history of mental illness and had checked into a mental-health facility. His family told authorities that on the night of the attack, Scantling told them he heard voices.
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said Scantling might have gotten away with the attack if not for the cameras. Nearly all the people on the train who witnessed the five-minute beating have disappeared. The recording shows 10 to 12 bystanders doing nothing to stop the attack. “I just think in a situation like that when there wasn’t a knife or a gun, you would hope that someone would help the man out.  It’s sad. If they were the ones being beaten, I would think they would want someone to step up.”