“Two people, we think, may have actually videotaped, using their telephones,” Mr. Stollsteimer said. One of those videos was turned over to law enforcement and one of the people taking the videos, he said, “probably was the one who made the anonymous tip that alerted the SEPTA Police Department.”
This seems to diverge from earlier official accounts, in which it was an off-duty SEPTA employee who had been on the train and alerted dispatch to what a SEPTA spokesman described as “inappropriate activity.”
Mr. Stollsteimer blamed the narrative on the news media and at one point on SEPTA officials.
“We stand by what we said before,” Andrew Busch, a spokesman for SEPTA, said. “We really want to come out of this highlighting the need for people to call if they see something that doesn’t look right.”
After the news conference on Thursday, Mr. Bernhardt also stood by his earlier remarks.
“What I committed to at the time, and commit to now, is that there were people getting in and getting off that I thought could have intervened and done something,” he said. “Now that doesn’t mean they were sitting there filming it, but as the district attorney said, there were plenty of people getting on and off that witnessed it. Now what they witnessed or what they thought, I don’t know, because we haven’t been able to speak with them.”
Mr. Ngoy, who is being held at the Delaware County Jail in lieu of $180,000 bail, has a record of arrests, including a conviction of misdemeanor assault for grabbing women. A native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to court records, he has overstayed a U.S. student visa and fought past attempts at deportation.
A public defender in Delaware County acknowledged that Mr. Ngoy was a client but declined to comment further.
Kirsten Noyes contributed research.