Suspect Arrested In Fatal Stabbing At Oakland's BART Station

BART Police Department John Lee Cowell 27

BART Police Department John Lee Cowell 27

OAKLAND BART police announced Monday evening that a man suspected of stabbing two sisters on a BART platform, leaving one dead, has been arrested. I am relieved to learn that the suspect was apprehended after an anonymous tip from a BART rider led to the arrest of the suspect. Cowell was arrested without any trouble on an Antioch-bound train at the Pleasant Hill/Contra Costa Centre station.

Surveillance video on the train and at the station's platform showed Cowell had been riding the same auto as the sisters Sunday, but they didn't interact, Rojas said.

"It was, in my close to 30 years of police experience, probably one of the most vicious attacks that I've seen", said BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas at a press conference before taking the suspect into custody.

Rojas says surveillance video shows Cowell attacked the sisters quickly, stabbing them after they exited a train.

"The use of the photo can be seen as an attempt to dismiss her humanity and silence those who view her death as a racially motivated attack", a NABJ release said.

Cowell had been released from prison in May following a two-year sentence for second-degree robbery and was on parole at the time of the crime, KRON4 reported.

The killing was the third possible homicide on the BART line in just five days, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Beilal Chatila, an Oakland-based lawyer, said he was disappointed how some media outlets portrayed Wilson, referring to an image showing her posing with a gun-shaped phone case instead of all the other pictures "they could have chosen from". He then fled, BART spokesman Jim Allison said. Cowell reportedly approached Wilson and her sister and slashed their throats with a knife.

On Monday night, hundreds of people gathered for a vigil at the station where the women were attacked, and later marched downtown.

18-year-old Nia Wilson takes shape outside Bay Area Rapid Transits Mac Arthur Station
Lorin Eleni Gill AP

The man said he didn't hear any yelling or arguing before the attack.

The two sisters were returning from a family function when the attack happened, according to CBS News.

"We gotta talk about Black girls, and Black women, and Black babies", Brooks said.

Nia was "the baby" among six children, said her eldest sister, Unieve Wilson, 37. Also on Monday, Nia's sister Malika Harris started a "Justice for Nia Wilson" GoFundMe fundraiser with a $9,000 goal. The victim, identified as Don Stevens, a transient, was punched at the side of his head by an unidentified suspect, according to BART surveillance videos.

"Everybody loved her", Grayson said.

Cowell is a white man, authorities said. In 2016, Kaiser Permanente Richmond Medical Center filed a restraining order against him for allegedly calling a worker a "crack-headed (expletive)" and constantly threatening to kill her. "They asked him what his name was". Monroe said Wilson had a boyfriend who drowned in a lake two years ago, and that she was celebrating his birthday on Sunday.

The family has received an outpouring of support in Oakland and on the internet. Police sirens are heard blaring in the background as the crowd continues to viciously pummel the unnamed man.

Authorities say a man fatally stabbed an 18-year-old woman in the neck and wounded her sister as they waited for a train in Oakland.

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