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Commuter disconnect: Passengers were too immersed in toys to spot murderer

11_siAuthorities have partially blamed gadget-absorbed commuters for failing to notice a gun-wielding assailant who calmly took his time before shooting a man point blank on a San Francisco train.

The man, 30-year-old Nikhom Thephakaysone, flashed his  .45-caliber pistol several times in front of everyone, before  proceeding to shoot San Francisco State University student Justin  Valdez, 20, in the back of the head before leaving the train. 

Police believe the attack to have been completely unprovoked. The September 23 incident, as reported by the San Francisco  Chronicle, involved security footage showing Thephakaysone  pulling out the gun, raising and pointing it – even wiping his  nose with the sleeve of that hand – before tucking the weapon  away and drawing it again several more times with nobody any the  wiser. He then simply shot Valdez and disembarked.

This incident highlights an increasing lack of attention from  passers-by, authorities say, alluding to the spread of hi-tech  toys. People are so engulfed by their hand-held entertainment  devices that they pay almost zero attention to their  surroundings.

District Attorney George Gascon believes technology has greatly  hindered people’s ability to concentrate, leading to increased  crime, as well as theft.

“These weren’t concealed movements — the gun is very  clear,” he told the Chronicle. “They’re just so engrossed,  texting and reading and whatnot. They’re completely oblivious of  their surroundings.”

Following a speedy arrest, several charges were leveled at  Thephakaysone, including murder and assault with a semi-automatic  handgun. He pleaded not guilty.

Despite this lack of admission, the police discovered a small  weapons arsenal after carrying out a search of his apartment. The  weapons found included two assault rifles and multiple combat  knives, adding illegal possession of assault weapons to the  charges.

Subsequent investigation revealed that Valdez was almost the  second victim that night, as Thephakaysone had stuck a gun in  another man’s back just hours before as he looked for someone to  shoot. He did not pull the trigger, choosing to go hunting for  another hour. He then wound up in front of a Thai restaurant,  where he again waved and played around with his gun, Assistant  District Attorney Scot Clark said.

Thephakaysone was arrested with $20,000 cash on his person.



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