Commuter disconnect: Passengers were too immersed in toys to spot murderer
Authorities have partially blamed gadget-absorbed commuters for failing to notice a gun-wielding assailant who calmly took his time before shooting a man point blank on a San Francisco train.
The man, 30-year-old Nikhom Thephakaysone, flashed his
.45-caliber pistol several times in front of everyone, before
proceeding to shoot San Francisco State University student Justin
Valdez, 20, in the back of the head before leaving the train.
Police believe the attack to have been completely unprovoked.
The September 23 incident, as reported by the San Francisco
Chronicle, involved security footage showing Thephakaysone
pulling out the gun, raising and pointing it – even wiping his
nose with the sleeve of that hand – before tucking the weapon
away and drawing it again several more times with nobody any the
wiser. He then simply shot Valdez and disembarked.
This incident highlights an increasing lack of attention from
passers-by, authorities say, alluding to the spread of hi-tech
toys. People are so engulfed by their hand-held entertainment
devices that they pay almost zero attention to their
District Attorney George Gascon believes technology has greatly
hindered people’s ability to concentrate, leading to increased
crime, as well as theft.
"These weren't concealed movements — the gun is very
clear," he told the Chronicle. “They’re just so engrossed,
texting and reading and whatnot. They’re completely oblivious of
Following a speedy arrest, several charges were leveled at
Thephakaysone, including murder and assault with a semi-automatic
handgun. He pleaded not guilty.
Despite this lack of admission, the police discovered a small
weapons arsenal after carrying out a search of his apartment. The
weapons found included two assault rifles and multiple combat
knives, adding illegal possession of assault weapons to the
Subsequent investigation revealed that Valdez was almost the
second victim that night, as Thephakaysone had stuck a gun in
another man’s back just hours before as he looked for someone to
shoot. He did not pull the trigger, choosing to go hunting for
another hour. He then wound up in front of a Thai restaurant,
where he again waved and played around with his gun, Assistant
District Attorney Scot Clark said.
Thephakaysone was arrested with $20,000 cash on his person.