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Home / US / BART kills in Oakland: Stinging suspect identified, manhunt continues

BART kills in Oakland: Stinging suspect identified, manhunt continues



The search for a man suspected of giving 18-year-old women a neck and hurting her sister on Sunday night lasted until Monday afternoon, The police raided the area near Oakland's MacArthur BART station and review surveillance videos of the station and the train car.

BART officials on Monday confirmed an "on-alert" warning for 27-year-old John Cowell. The suspect in the deadly sting is 5 feet-8 and weighs 190 pounds, and he has short, dark hair as well as a short-cropped beard and mustache, officials said. He is considered dangerous and BART has asked anyone in contact with him to call 911.

BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas said at a press conference on Monday that Cowell had recently been cited for avoiding tolls, and his photo was taken on July 18.

Nicole Mikel's train was on Sunday night at the train station of MacArthur rolled as the silent commute was interrupted by "terrible cries."

The sounds came from the direction of two young women who had noticed Mikels boarded the train a few minutes ago at Rockridge Station.

A sister shouted "for help," Mikels said. "Her sister was bleeding badly on the neck – her entire torso was covered in blood."

While BART officials tried CPR on their younger sister, Mikels said she and other passengers tried to calm the older sister by massaging her legs and giving her water

"She said it all happened so quickly "Mikels said. "[That] it was a white man who had slashed her sister's neck."

Despite life-saving attempts, 18-year-old Nia Wilson was declared dead a short time later

The seemingly random attack began a night-time manhunt that continued on early Monday morning when police in their 20s or 30s prickly hair looking for a 5 foot man.

The authorities on Sunday evening described the event as double stabbing. The officers had no immediate update on the condition of Wilson's sister on Monday morning.

BART spokesman Chris Filippi confirmed that the suspect was released on Monday morning and the police were reviewing surveillance videos from both the train station and the train car. While officials initially said the attack had happened either on the train platform or on the train, Filippi said on Monday that the stabbing took place on the platform right next to the train.

Spokeswoman Alicia Trost said the BART police had cleared the scene at 3:30 pm

In a statement released Monday morning, Mayor of Oakland Libby Schaaf said there was no known motive for the crime

"The pointless and violent blackmail of two young women on a BART platform platform shook our community last night," she said. "Any parent who saw Nia Wilson's father grieve for his daughter is heartbroken by this horrific act."

Schaaf said BART was the lead agency conducting the investigation, and the Oakland Police Department was in constant contact

"We are all grieving at this moment, and we will all work together to bring Nia, her sister, and her to do justice to their family, "said Schaaf.

MacArthur station closed shortly after 21:45 Attack but reopened on Monday morning, Filippi said.

Commuters in MacArthur on Monday morning said they were shocked by the knife wounds.

"It's heartbreaking because I'm going to BART every morning," said Orlando Gray, 26, of Oakland, who was on his way to finding a new job at Tesla.

"I'll keep my eyes open," he said. "I do not want anyone making me quarrelsome."

Faye, a 65-year-old Oakland resident and government employee who asked not to use her last name, has been living in the neighborhood for 15 years, thinking about a safe place.

"It's just awful," she said about the killing. "I think BART is doing a decent job to protect his drivers, I think what happens is the result of the degenerative minds of the sick, it could happen anywhere."

Oakland-based Solomon Haile called the attack a " big surprise ".

"I've been driving from this station for more than 15 years, and nothing has happened like that," he said

Diane Watkins, a 51-year-old computer technician who lives near MacArthur Station, heard last night Sirens about the incident.

"That's sad," she said. "This is the focal point of Oakland, I've never seen any abuses or violence here, maybe a bit of police activity up front, but nothing like that, it's just awful."

Relatives of the victims gathered at the station late on Sunday evening and hugged and cried after talking to the police. Malika Harris identified Wilson as her sister and the woman who was killed.

Ebony Monroe, a cousin of the victims, called Wilson a "beautiful, sweet person" who loved her cousins, fashion and make-up. Monroe said that Wilson had a friend who drowned in a lake two years ago and that was celebrating his birthday on Sunday.

"She needs her justice … She was just an innocent child and she did not deserve it." Monroe said. "And he did that for no reason."

Megan Cassidy and Michael Cabanatuan are employees of the San Francisco Chronicle. E-mail: megan.cassidy@sfchronicle.com, MCabanatuan@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @ megancassidy @ctuan


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