An eighteen-year-old woman is now one of three people who were stabbed to death in the timespan of a week, all while on public transit property in Oakland, California.
Nia Wilson was reportedly walking on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) MacArthur Station platform when a man stabbed her, mortally wounding the woman. Her sister, Lahtifah, was wounded in the attack.
The attack was caught on surveillance footage, which Bart Police Chief Carlos Rojas said was fairly grisly in review.
“In my close to 30 years of police experience, it was probably one of the most vicious attacks that I’ve seen,” Rojas said.
The suspect, 27-year-old John Cowell, has been taken into custody.
A violent felon, Cowell was on put on parole from the California prison system around four months ago following a two year-stint for second-degree robbery. After the attack, he could be seen removing his clothing in the BART station parking structure before fleeing.
According to CNN, two BART officers were at the station during the attack and provided aid to the victims.
In the aftermath of the attack, nearly 1,000 people marched in a vigil in downtown Oakland on Monday evening.
Despite police claiming there was no evidence of any prejudice behind the assault, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf stirred up racial tension in a statement, pointing out that Cowell -who is white- attacked two black women.
“The senseless and violent stabbing of two young women on a BART train platform last night has shaken our community,” she said. “Although investigators currently have no evidence to conclude that this tragedy was racially motivated or that the suspect was affiliated with any hate groups, the fact that his victims were both young African American women stirs deep pain and palpable fear in all of us who acknowledge the reality that our country still suffers from a tragic and deeply racist history,”
Wilson’s godfather, Daryle Allums, reportedly asked “the African-American community to stand down right now.”
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