CHICAGO (CBS) — A man who recently got his doctorate in neuroscience from Northwestern University has been charged with attempted murder, for allegedly shoving a stranger onto the Blue Line tracks at a CTA subway station in August.
Chad Estep, 34, of the Wicker Park neighborhood, has been charged with felony counts of attempted murder and aggravated battery, along with a misdemeanor count of trespassing, for allegedly jumping the turnstile at the Blue Line station at Washington and Dearborn, according to police.
A judge set Estep’s bail at $200,000 at a bond hearing Tuesday afternoon.
Estep earned a PhD in neuroscience from Northwestern University in 2017. A university spokesman said Estep no longer is a student there.
Cook County prosecutors said 46-year-old Ben Benedict was on his way home from a Cubs game on Aug. 1, waiting for a train at the Washington subway station, when Estep “lined up behind the victim and shoved the victim with both hands.” Police have said the two never met before the attack, and Estep shoved Benedict for no apparent reason.
When he fell, Benedict barely missed the electrified third rail. When he tried to climb out, Estep allegedly “blocked the victim’s path.” Police said Estep “menaced” the victim after shoving him, and refused to let him climb back onto the platform until witnesses intervened. Other commuters eventually blocked Estep and helped Benedict get off the tracks.
Defense attorney Vadim Glozman denied Estep was the man identified in surveillance videos as the suspect who shoved Benedict.
“The allegations put forth by the state are extremely serious, and there’s — as far as I can see — very minimal evidence against Mr. Estep,” Glozman said.
Video released by the Chicago Police Department does not show the shoving incident, but does show the suspect in the case jumping a turnstile at the station, and waling toward the platform. Police have said Benedict was shoved onto the tracks moments later.
Police said Estep was identified as Benedict’s attacker, and prosecutors said cell phone records put Estep at the Washington station the night of the incident.
Glozman declined to answer questions about the incident, but stressed Estep’s background.
“Mr. Estep’s a young professional. He’s got a PhD from Northwestern. He graduated back in March. He’s working as a data analyst, and lives with his wife quietly. He’s a productive member of society, and this is a very sad and traumatic experience going on right now. We’re going to get him out of this,” Glozman said.
Benedict declined to comment on the charges against Estep, but a friend of his said when Benedict heard the news someone had been charged, he was relieved.