by Leisha Shaffer
Service on the Chestnut Hill West line was temporarily suspended on Friday afternoon after the shooting of a Regional Rail conductor in the West Mt. Airy section of the city. The incident occurred as the train pulled into the Carpenter Lane station at approximately 3:30 p.m.
The victim, who was collecting fares at the time of the incident, received a bullet wound to the hip and is, according to news reports, in stable condition at Einstein Hospital. The suspects, two males in their teens or early 20s, fled the scene.
The shooting, the first in 20 years on the regional rail lines, impacted commuters on both the Chestnut Hill East and Chestnut Hill West lines. After the initial suspension of service on the West line, outbound commuters were diverted to the Chestnut Hill East line. By 4 p.m., service had resumed on the Chestnut Hill West line with bus service between the Upsal and Allen Lane stations to bypass the Carpenter Lane crime scene.
Early reports provided conflicting information on whether the conductor who was shot was a woman or a man. A Mt. Airy resident, who identified herself as Ms. Toney and was on the train where the shooting occurred, clarified the reports.
“The man who was taking the fares was the one who was shot. The woman was driving the train and she came back to help him and the passengers,” said Toney, who sat one car back from where the shooting occurred. “He looked like he was going to be alright. He was sitting up talking and passengers were helping him by putting pressure on his leg.”
Toney described the initial reaction of the train passengers:
“We heard this loud pop and people said ‘What’s that noise?’ It sounded like a gunshot, but you don’t think you are going to hear a gunshot on a train.”
According to Toney, people who were riding in the car where the incident took place said there was a disturbance when the conductor approached the two young men. It is undetermined whether it was a dispute over the fare or a robbery attempt.
Calamia and Sandy Reilly of Mt. Airy reunited at the Chestnut Hill East station after having two very different experiences. Calamia was at home, cooking dinner as a surprise for his wife, who was in Center City for the afternoon.
“The [Carpenter] station is 500 feet from my house,” said Calamia. “I was cooking and then I heard all of these helicopters overhead. A neighbor told me what had happened.”
Sandy heard about the incident while she was in Suburban Station, where she was diverted onto the Chestnut Hill East line.
As her husband greeted her at the station, Sandy stated, “That was quite a bit of excitement. I’m just happy to be home.”
Other commuters faced a longer trek home due to the closure. Several commuters who were waiting at the West station, including a Germantown resident who identified herself as Miranda M., heard about the shooting and suspension of service and walked over to the East station.
“I was on my way home from work. I actually walked past this station [East] to go to West because I get off the train at Queen Lane. And now, I’m back at the East station,” Miranda explained.
Upon hearing that Chestnut Hill West had resumed with a detour around the Carpenter station, Miranda decided to stay put and wait for the East train.
“I’ll be going past my house, into Center City, and then coming back out to Germantown. But I’d rather do a long ride instead of another long walk.”