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Commuters Were So Absorbed By Their Phones They Didn’t Notice A Gun-Wielding Man On Their Train
October 8, 2013
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Distracted commuters in London, U.K. (Photo: Peter Sigrist/Flickr)

Here's a scary moment that brings home how distracting electronic devices can be: a man pulled out a gun on a crowded San Francisco commuter train, started waving it around... And nobody noticed because they were looking at their phones.

Sadly the altercation, which took place in San Francisco on September 23, SFGate reports, left one person dead. Police allege that a man named Nikhom Thephakaysone, who has since been arrested and charged, shot and killed 20-year-old Justin Valdez on a light-rail commuter train in an apparently random attack.

Video of the event shows the man brandishing a gun openly, pulling it out several times, raising it and pointing it across the aisle and using the hand holding the weapon to wipe his nose. Although the train was full of commuters, no one seemed to notice. 

"These weren't concealed movements — the gun is very clear," District Attorney George Gascon told SFGate. "These people are in very close proximity with him, and nobody sees this. They're just so engrossed, texting and reading and whatnot. They're completely oblivious of their surroundings."

Jack Nasar, an Ohio State University professor who has been studing the dangers of cell phone distraction for nearly 10 years, says he's not too surprised by the incident.

"When you used to go into a public place, you assumed everyone was in that place with you," he said. "What happens to public places when everybody is talking on a cell phone? Everyone is somewhere else. Someone can take a gun, hold it up and nobody will notice it."

Commuters aren't the only ones being warned about the dangers of distraction and mobile devices. According to RCMP stats reported by CBC News, distracted driving caused more accidents than alcohol consumption this year in Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nova Scotia.

Every province and territory except Nunavut currently fines people who are caught driving while using a hand-held wireless device, with the amounts varying from $100 in the Northwest Territories to up to $400 in P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Via @KimZetter


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