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Five Feet From A Fight On BART

July 23, 2010
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Yesterday, as I boarded a BART train on my way to San Francisco, I thought it would be just another normal trip. But it turned out to be an almost surreal ordeal (good one, huh?).

It all started out as usual, when I got on at the Millbrae station and found a window seat near the middle of the train. A few people were getting on and off the train at each stop, and it all seemed normal until a couple shady looking guys boarded the train. One was probably in his twenties and the other in his teens, and both were wearing baggy khakis. The older guy was wearing an orange Tim Lincecum jersey and the younger guy a huge white shirt.

They started pacing the train through the middle aisle and the older guy was talking on his phone. And then things just happened all of a sudden.

The older guy stopped in my row of seats and started talking to a seemingly random guy on the aisle seat opposite me. I don’t know what started their argument (maybe eye-to-eye contact taken the wrong way), but within five seconds, they were throwing punches. The younger dude ran up and started punching as well.

Fortunately, some bystanders figured out what was going on rather quickly and got between the fighting guys. Amazingly, there was also an off-duty cop (he flashed his badge) on the same train who acted quickly.

It was surreal. Time seemed to slow down and I became kind of frozen, not really sure what to do. My heart was beating so fast. I was just imagining one of them would pull out a knife or a gun. I froze, and though I couldn’t have really gotten in the fight because of my positioning, with a person between me and the fighters.

After the fight was broken up, one older lady nearby stood up and yelled for the instigators to get off the train, a command that was backed up by the off-duty officer. At least five people around me immediately got on the phone and called BART police to report what had happened just seconds earlier.

We ended up stalled at the Balboa Park BART station for 15 minutes as we waited for BART police to show up and resolve the situation.

I’ve never been in a situation like this in my life, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared in the moment. A random fight started literally five feet away from me on public transportation. Absolutely crazy.

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