Oakland police are searching for 27-year-old John Lee Cowell after he allegedly stabbed two women at the MacArthur Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station, fatally wounding one and injuring another. According to SF Gate, Cowell stabbed Nia Wilson, 18, and her sister, Malika Harris.
The attack occurred around 9:45 p.m. on Sunday evening. Eyewitnesses say they did not hear any yelling or talking from Cowell prior to him allegedly stabbing Wilson in the neck. After he stabbed the women, eyewitnesses saw him fleeing the station.
“[One sister was] screaming for help. Her sister was bleeding profusely by the neck — her entire torso was covered in blood,” said Nicole Mickels, who witnessed the attack while exiting a train that had just arrived at MacArthur station. BART police arrived shortly after and attempted CPR on Wilson. While they performed CPR, other commuters tried to calm “Harris by massaging her legs and giving her water.”
“She said everything happened so fast. [That] it was a white male that had slit her sister’s throat,” Mikels added.
Wilson was pronounced dead a short time later. Harris was transported to a local hospital and is in stable condition.
Ansar Mohammed, the father of Wilson and Harris, says he just wants justice for his daughters.
“I work at Highland Hospital. I see this every day. I never imagined myself going through nothing like this,” he said.
Writer and civil rights activist Shaun King shared the story on Twitter Monday, urging people to help find Cowell.
Local police then launched a manhunt for Cowell, whose identity was initially unknown. The canvassing stopped Monday morning at 3:30 a.m. and resumed at sunrise. The MacArthur station had been shut down after the attack but reopened early Monday morning.
Libby Schaaf, Oakland mayor, released a statement Monday morning addressing the incident.
“The senseless and violent stabbing of two young women on a BART train platform last night has shaken our community. Every parent who saw the father of Nia Wilson grieve for his daughter is heartbroken by this horrific act,” Schaaf said.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help get justice for Wilson.
ABC 7 News reports that neither Harris nor Wilson knew Cowell prior to the attack. Officials have allegedly found surveillance footage of Cowell changing his clothes in a parking lot near the station. They believe they’ve found the knife he used in the stabbing at “an adjacent construction site.”
Cowell, who has been convicted of felony second-degree robbery charges, battery, and being under the influence of a controlled substance, is still considered armed and dangerous, and anyone who encounters him has been urged to call 911.