Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Exclusive: Train Fire Suspect Was Accused Of Throwing Chemicals On Another CTA Passenger Last Month

When David Ferguson allegedly threw a flammable substance on a Red Line passenger moments before setting the train on fire last week, it was the second time in a month that he had been accused of throwing chemicals on a CTA rider, court records show.

Ferguson's mugshot in the train fire case
While Ferguson did not start a fire in the first incident, he was accused of punching the passenger in the eye and jumping onto the Green Line tracks at Roosevelt in an attempt to escape.

The victim told police that Ferguson was sniffing a liquid on the southbound train as it pulled into the Roosevelt station, 22 East Roosevelt, shortly after noon on December 15. Ferguson then threw some of the substance on the passenger and punched him in the eye, according to a police report. When the train came to a stop, the passenger approached a CTA employee on the platform to tell him about what had allegedly happened.

Ferguson was released on a $1,500 recognizance bond. But the victim in that case, a 27-year-old man, did not show up in court and the charges were dropped.

Twelve days later, Ferguson was arrested again at Northwestern Memorial Hospital for allegedly threatening to kill an emergency room physician. Ferguson had just been treated in the ER when he reportedly became disruptive and told the doctor, “I’m going to f*cking kill you.”

He was charged with assault. But, the doctor didn’t show up in court, either, and those charges were dropped as well.

Court records show that Ferguson was sentenced to serve five years in prison for a November 2013 robbery in Edgewater. When Ferguson was arrested in the Northwestern case, officers conducting a routine background check in the Law Enforcement Agencies Data System (LEADS) learned that he was on parole for the case. But Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) workers told police that was a mistake.

Exactly how Ferguson came to be released from supervision less four years after a crime for which he was sentenced to five years is not clear. IDOC did not respond to an inquiry for this report.


Fire Details

A report completed by Chicago police officers after last week’s incident aboard the Red Line train at Argyle included more details about precisely what happened in the seconds leading up to Ferguson’s arrest.
The Argyle Red Line station. | Graham Garfield

A CTA conductor, told that Ferguson was acting up and had thrown a chemical on another passenger, went to the train’s fourth car to see what was going on. As the conductor entered the train car, Ferguson allegedly yelled, “I’m going to set you on fire” and pushed the worker. Officers rushed train. While cops were trying to apprehend him, Ferguson set fire to a pool of paint thinner that was on the train car’s floor under the officers’ feet, setting their shoes, his shoes, and the train ablaze, the officers said.

Ferguson, 28, was wrestled off of the train and onto the platform where police completed the arrest, they said. A second CTA worker then extinguished the fires.

A police officer and a CTA conductor were treated for injuries at area hospitals. Ferguson was treated for third-degree burns. He was released this weekend into the custody of the Cook County Sheriff where he is being held without bail.
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