Even as more police officers and private security employees are added to Chicago Transit Authority platforms, trains and buses, families and friends are sharing stories of brutal attacks in recent weeks.
Last week at the Cicero Green Line station, Bernardo Gomez, just days from his 27th birthday, was the victim of one such unprovoked attack.
His family says that he was kicked in the face during the attack, and later died from his injuries.
This week, a 14-year-old boy was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the case.
Feeling out of the loop? We'll catch you up on the Chicago news you need to know. Sign up for the weekly Chicago Catch-Up newsletter here.
“He didn’t hurt anyone. He was just minding his business,” his sister Julia said. “We had all these plans, and we were just waiting for him to come home.”
Julia described her brother as a protective person and father, deeply committed to his family and faith, and is expressing shock at just how young his alleged assailant was.
“A 14-year-old, an eighth-grader, with the intention of hurting someone like that,” she said.
Julia Gomez says that what pains her the most is that no one stepped in to help her brother as he was beaten to death.
Bystanders did help another man, Derek Kucynda, who was attacked on a CTA train May 15 while he was riding home on the Red Line.
According to police, a passenger smashed a glass bottle into the side of Kucynda’s face, leaving him with severe injuries that caused him to be admitted into an intensive care unit.
His coworker Nigeria Gould was with him at the time of the attack.
“He came up, took a large glass bottle and smashed it against Derek’s head,” she said. “There were a couple of people filming this attack.”
Kucynda says that the attack likely would have continued if not for a group of brave passengers who stepped in.
“They essentially saved my life, and took this person off of me,” he said. “I could have been beaten way longer than two minutes. They held him down.”
The CTA says it is continuing to add new resources to its system, and strengthening its collaborative efforts with Chicago police. An additional 130 officers have been deployed to patrol platforms, trains and buses, and the CTA says it is also continuing to add private security patrols throughout its system.