The Latest: Suspect arrested in Oakland station killing

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on a fatal stabbing attack at a California train station (all times local):

8:40 p.m.

Authorities say a man suspected in the stabbing death of a teenager at an Oakland, California, train station had no weapon when he was arrested on a train a dozen miles away.

Bay Area Rapid Transit Police Chief Carlos Rojas says 27-year-old John Lee Cowell was arrested without incident Monday evening aboard an Antioch-bound train at a BART station in Walnut Creek.

At a news conference, Rojas couldn’t immediately explain how Cowell managed to board the train but called the public transportation system “porous.”

Police say Cowell stabbed 18-year-old Nia Wilson to death Sunday night at the MacArthur BART station in Oakland and wounded her sister.

Authorities haven’t supplied a motive for what they say appeared to be an unprovoked and possibly random attack.


7:50 p.m.

A paroled convict suspected in a deadly stabbing at an Oakland train station has been arrested.

Authorities say an anonymous tip from a Bay Area Rapid Transit rider led them to 27-year-old John Lee Cowell.

He was peacefully arrested aboard an Antioch-bound train Monday night at the Pleasant Hill Station in Walnut Creek, about a dozen miles from Oakland.

A manhunt had been underway since Cowell was identified as the suspect who randomly and fatally stabbed 18-year-old Nia Wilson in the neck and wounded her sister Sunday night at the MacArthur BART station in Oakland.

Authorities say Cowell had served time for second-degree robbery and was released from prison on May 6.

Nia’s parents and dozens of others held a vigil at the station Monday night to remember her.


6:20 p.m.

A vigil is being held at the Oakland train station where a young woman was stabbed to death and her sister wounded in what authorities say was an unprovoked attack.

Dozens of people showed up Monday evening to remember 18-year-old Nia Wilson, who was stabbed in the neck at the MacArthur BART station on Sunday night.

Authorities are searching for 27-year-old John Cowell, a convicted robber who was paroled from state prison in May.

He’s considered armed and dangerous.

At the vigil, Nia’s father says the image of his youngest child’s body lying under a tarpaulin on the train platform is an image he will never forget and he wants the killer caught.


4:15 p.m.

The wounded sister of an 18-year-old woman fatally stabbed by a violent felon on parole says they were “blindsided by a maniac.”

Letifah Wilson, who is 26 years old, told ABC7 News on Monday that the sisters never saw suspect John Cowell or exchanged words with him on the subway before he stabbed Nia Wilson in the neck.

He then attacked and wounded her.

Wilson said she looked back at Cowell after he ran off, and she saw him wiping off his knife.

She said she failed to protect her baby sister, who she described as the “sweetest person on the earth.” She says she told Nia she loved her.

Wilson says she was with Nia and another sister and heading home from a family function when Cowell attacked at the MacArthur train station.

Bay Area Rapid Transit Police Chief Carlos Rojas said Monday that surveillance video shows 27-year-old Cowell striking the sisters and getting away.

A cousin had previously identified 21-year-old Tashiya Wilson as the wounded sister, but authorities later said Letifah Wilson had been hurt.


1 p.m.

Authorities in Northern California say the man wanted in the fatal stabbing of a teenager at a subway station is a violent felon on parole.

Bay Area Rapid Transit Police Chief Carlos Rojas said Monday surveillance video shows 27-year-old John Cowell “struck very rapidly,” stabbing 18-year-old Nia Wilson to death and injuring her sister, Latifa Wilson.

Rojas says detectives found a knife at a construction site near the MacArthur train station they believe was used in the attack.

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

He says it was an “unprovoked, vicious attack” and that officials have not determined a motive.

Rojas says surveillance video also shows Cowell fleeing through a parking lot, where he changed his clothes.

The chief says investigators are trying to determine what led to the attack. Rojas says they have no information it was racially motivated, but they are not discarding that factor as a possible motive. The Wilson sisters are black, and Cowell is white.

“Up to this point we don’t have any information that was race-motivated, but we can’t discard it.,” he said.


12:30 p.m.

Police in Northern California have identified a man suspected of fatally stabbing a teenager at a Northern California train station as 27-year-old John Cowell.

Bay Area Rapid Transit police on Monday released three surveillance video images of Cowell, including one that shows him at MacArthur station Sunday night, when the teenager and her sister were stabbed on a platform after exiting the train.

The photograph shows Cowell wearing a gray and white track suit and carrying a backpack.

BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas described Cowell as “a violent felon who is currently on parole.”

Police didn’t identify the victims, but their relatives say they were 18-year-old Nia Wilson, who died, and her sister, 21-year-old Tashiya Wilson. Tashiya Wilson was hospitalized.


10:30 a.m.

A relative of a teen who was fatally stabbed at a Northern California train station says her cousin was returning home after celebrating her dead boyfriend’s birthday when she was randomly attacked.

Ebony Monroe said Monday her cousins, 18-year-old Nia Wilson and 21-year-old Tashiya Wilson, were heading home Sunday night on a Bay Area Rapid Transit train after celebrating Wilson’s late boyfriend’s birthday. He drowned two years ago in a lake.

BART spokesman Jim Allison says a man allegedly attacked the sisters at random as they exited a train at the MacArthur station in Oakland.

Nia Wilson died soon after police arrived, and her sister was taken to a hospital.

Monroe says her cousin graduated from Oakland High School and was a “beautiful person inside and out.”


6:52 a.m.

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.

The stabbings, which appeared to be random, happened Sunday night at the Bay Area Rapid Transit’s MacArthur Station.

BART spokesman Jim Allison tells the San Francisco Chronicle one of the victims died soon after police arrived and the second victim was taken to a hospital.

He says police are looking for the suspect fled the station. He is described as a white male in his twenties or thirties with a heavy-set build.

Relative Malika Harris identified the woman who died as her sister, Nia Wilson, who had attended Oakland High.

Official closed the station after the attack. It reopened at 4 a.m. Monday.


This story has been corrected to reflect the right spelling of Letifah Wilson’s first name.


Information from: San Francisco Chronicle,

Categories: California News