Suspect arrested, victim in T attack laments lack of help

Wishes bystanders had done more

Christopher Johnson is having some trouble with the fact that nobody came to his aid. He said there were two men at the scene who did not call police or even bother to see if he was all right afterward, despite his request for assistance.
Christopher Johnson is having some trouble with the fact that nobody came to his aid. He said there were two men at the scene who did not call police or even bother to see if he was all right afterward, despite his request for assistance.

Nobody helped him.

Christopher Johnson, a 44-year-old office clerk who has cerebral palsy, had just been beaten with his own cane. His attacker was walking away, still holding Johnson’s cane, a sentimental gift from a colleague.

Johnson turned to two men standing nearby and begged them for help. But neither called police, nor did they check to see if Johnson was OK.


Three days later, Johnson, a devout Muslim who starts and finishes his conversations with the word peace, said he is still pained by the strangers’s inaction.

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“I am appalled that no one came to my aid,” he said in an interview in the lobby of his Dorchester apartment building.

On Tuesday afternoon, MBTA Transit Police announced they had identified a suspect, Miguel Velasquez, a 20-year-old Dorchester man who will be arraigned in South Boston District Court Wednesday on charges of unarmed robbery and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon on a disabled person.

Detectives made the arrest just hours after Transit Police released surveillance photos of the man who beat Johnson. Superintendent in Chief Joseph O’Connor said investigators received a tip telling them they could find the attacker in Watertown. Detectives found Velasquez and brought him back to headquarters on Southampton Street, where they questioned him and then arrested him, O’Connor said.

“We’re confident that we’ve identified the individual who was depicted in the picture,” O’Connor said.

An arrest was made hours after surveillance photos of the suspect were released.

Johnson, who has difficulty walking without a cane due to his cerebral palsy and who works at the Boston Housing Authority, said he was relieved by the quick arrest but wants to meet Velasquez.

“I want to find out, man to man, person to person, if he is in the right mind, why he did what he did,” he said.

Police said they believe that Velasquez was impaired at the time of the assault and Johnson said he could smell marijuana on his attacker.

The attack took place just after 11 p.m. Saturday at the bus station in Andrew Square, Transit Police said. Johnson, who was returning home after visiting a friend, was waiting to board the Number 16 bus when a young man walked up beside him. The man was about to sit down on a nearby bench, when Johnson pointed out what looked like several dead pigeons lying nearby on the ground.

“ ‘Brother, don’t sit there,’ ” Johnson recalled telling him. The man said OK.


Moments later, Johnson felt someone take his cane. He whipped around in time to see the same young man strike him with his own walking stick.

Johnson said he was not seriously hurt, but he could not believe when the two nearby men, one who appeared to be an able-bodied man in his 20s, just stood there.

“They did nothing,” said Johnson, who also has a calcium deposit in his knee that prevents him from walking fast. “I just wanted my cane back.”

An MBTA supervisor drove Johnson to the Transit Police station where he filed a report. Police had erroneously stated earlier that he walked to the police station.

Johnson said after he filed the report, officers did not offer him a ride home. They also did not ask him if he would be willing to drive with them and see if his attacker might still be lurking near the station.

Johnson said he called his father in Roxbury, who picked him up and drove him to his Dorchester apartment.

O’Connor said he could not comment on what happened at the transit station that night because he had not spoken to the officer who took Johnson’s report.

“Generally, if someone does ask for a ride, we’re more than happy to provide one to a victim,” O’Connor said.

He said that officers may have chosen not to conduct a search that night because the assault had happened more than 30 minutes earlier, because they had other calls to respond to, or because it was unlikely they would find the attacker still in the area.

O’Connor said the quick arrest should show the value of reporting crimes and tips to police.

“We’ll take them seriously and identify the individual and bring them into the court system,” said O’Connor.

Johnson said he would like to get back his cane, a cream-colored, gnarled wood walking stick.

“It’s like Lucky’s,” he said, referring to the cane favored by Lucky the Leprechaun, the mascot of the Celtics, Johnson’s favorite sports team. “That cane had character. I love that cane.”

Johnson said he is now thinking of signing up for martial arts classes. He said he wants to meet with Mayor Martin J. Walsh to learn about his public safety plans for the MBTA.

“I need to do something,” Johnson said. “I don’t want to be scared when I’m walking.”

Maria Cramer can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @GlobeMCramer.