Roughly two dozen teens, chanting the name of a well-known Atlanta gang, brought mob rule to MARTA early Sunday morning, overwhelming nervous passengers and assaulting two Delta flight attendants.
“There was blood everywhere, people were hollering and screaming,” a witness told Channel 2 Action News. “We were intimidated. People were terrified. People were trying to run. But there was nowhere to run.”
Flight attendant Parker Stanea, 28, told officers a diminutive teen, no taller than 5′4″ and wearing a pink shirt, hit him with a soda can over the left eye. Stanea said the youths then pushed him to the ground and stole his wallet, according to an incident report filed by MARTA police.
Stanea’s friend, Jose Souza, said he was assaulted by the same suspect, according to the MARTA police incident report. The pink-clad teen punched him in the lip, the 24-year-old Delta employee said, but before they could take anything two unidentified male passengers intervened.
Meanwhile, several passengers sought to exit at the next stop, but for some reason the doors at the West End station wouldn’t open, leaving the passengers and suspects–believed to range in age from 13 to 18–in a tense face-off before the suspects disembarked at the Oakland City station.
Witnesses said they heard the youths chant “BFPL,” a familiar acronym to Atlanta police.
“The Atlanta Police Department is familiar with the ‘BFPL,’ a local gang made up of young people high-school aged and into their early 20s,” said APD spokesman Carlos Campos, adding the initials stand for “Bank First, Play Later.” The gang typically operates out of the southwest and northwest corners of Atlanta and came to the attention of police “mostly through a number of car break-ins for which some members were arrested,” Campos said.
The attacks struck a nerve with some passengers who say they’ve become increasingly concerned about their safety while riding MARTA.