Man Killed on Busy Train but Commuters Were Too Busy Texting to Notice

Oy vey. As an iPhone addict, I usually roll my eyes when I hear someone complaining about how too many people are missing out on life by keeping their eyes glued to their screens. But in one case, a life may have been saved had a few people been paying attention to their surroundings instead of playing Candy Crush.

On a crowded commuter train in San Francisco last month, a man was caught on a surveillance camera waving a gun around several times, before randomly shooting and killing a university student.


Security footage clearly shows the man pulling out the .45-caliber pistol several times before firing it. He pointed it at someone before deciding on a different victim, and even wiped his nose with the same hand that was holding it.

No one noticed. They were too engrossed with their smartphones and tablets. District Attorney George Gascon commented, “These weren’t concealed movements -- the gun is very clear ... 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."

Nikhom Thephakaysone, 30, who has pleaded not guilty to charges including the murder of Justin Valdez, a 20-year-old San Francisco State University student, was also allegedly in possession of $20,000 in cash when he was arrested. Police say they seized two rifles, combat knives, and razors from his home.

Did you catch that? A random (probably crazy) guy waved a semi-automatic assault weapon on a crowded commuter train, and fools be too busy with their gadgets to notice.

Police officials say that this hyper focus on electronics can also leave people vulnerable to theft. Police Chief Greg Suhr said, "Oftentimes when you interview people who get their phones stolen, when you ask them to describe where the person came from, what he was wearing, they have no idea.”

Ok, it’s one thing to multitask, but it’s not multitasking if you’re singularly focused on your phone. I’m not saying you shouldn’t take the time on your mass-transit commute to catch up on some email, check Facebook, or whatever it is you’re doing over there ... but try to pay attention to your surroundings too.

It just might save your life.

Are you ever guilty of smartphone-induced oblivion?

Image via Tim Pannell/Corbis

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