Suddenly, he felt a sharp blow to his back — and then he was tumbling onto the train tracks.
Ben Benedict, 46, had been waiting for a train on a subway platform in downtown Chicago, headed home from a Cubs game, when a man ran at him and shoved him with both hands onto the tracks, according to the Chicago Tribune. Benedict sprained his wrist as he fell, and he almost landed directly on the track’s potentially deadly, electrified third rail, the Tribune reports.
Police say the incident happened just before midnight on Aug. 1 at the CTA’s Washington Blue Line station.
Benedict told the Tribune the attack wasn’t an accidental nudge, but a “full-on running push.” And when Benedict tried to stand up and climb back onto the platform, DNAInfo reports, the suspect allegedly tried to prevent him from getting off the tracks.
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“It was like a lion looking at his prey, that’s kinda what it looked like to me,” Benedict told the Tribune.
Other witnesses circled to help him as well, but his alleged attacker attempted to ward them off as Benedict screamed for them to help rescue him, he told the Tribune. When the attacker fled, others were able to help him get off the tracks, he said.
And now, police say they’ve found his attacker.
Chicago police arrested Chad Estep, 34, on Monday evening, and charged him with attempted first-degree murder in connection with the August subway incident. Estep has also been charged with felony aggravated battery and a misdemeanor count for jumping the turnstile and not paying his train fare, police wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday.
Estep is being held on $200,000 bail, DNAInfo reports.
Police released surveillance footage from the subway station in early September, a month after the alleged attack, and posted it on Twitter.
Police didn’t originally release photos or video of the suspect to the public because they didn’t think it was anything more than an isolated case, according to Patch. But after Benedict spoke to the Chicago Tribune about the attack on Sept. 7, police released more information.
In a court hearing Tuesday, the lawyer defending Estep, Vadim Glozman, suggested police had misidentified his client as the suspect.
“I’ve seen the stills from the video, and they’re not very clear,” Glozman said, according to DNAInfo. “There’s no video of this happening, judge. We have a 34-year-old young professional who’s just starting off his career. He has absolutely no criminal history.
Estep lives with his wife and his dog in Wicker Park, a neighborhood in northwest Chicago, police said.
He graduated from Northwestern University with a Ph.D. in neuroscience in March 2017, Patch reports.
“Quite honestly, it’s a shame that Mr. Estep has to go through all this,” Glozman said, according to DNAInfo.