In late September, on a crowded commuter train in San Francisco, a man shot and killed 20-year-old student Justin Valdez. As security footage shows, before the gunman fired, he waved around his .45 caliber pistol and at one point even pointed it across the aisle. Yet no one on the crowded train noticed because they were so focused on their smartphones and tablets. “These weren’t concealed movements—the gun is very clear,” District Attorney George Gascon later told the Associated Press. “These people are in very close proximity with him, and nobody sees this. They’re just so engrossed, texting and reading and whatnot. They’re completely oblivious of their surroundings.”
Another recent attack, on a blind man walking down the street in broad daylight in Philadelphia, garnered attention because security footage later revealed that many passersby ignored the assault and never called 911. Commenting to a local radio station, Philadelphia’s chief of police Charles Ramsay said that this lack of response was becoming “more and more common” and noted that people are more likely to use their cellphones to record assaults than to call the police.