DeathNewsSan Francisco

Sisters attacked in Sunday double stabbing on BART: 18-year-old Nia Wilson killed

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18-year-old Nia Wilson was killed in a stabbing at MacArthur BART (photo courtesy of Wilson’s Facebook account).

Updates are further down in the article 

Two sisters were attacked on BART Sunday night near the MacArthur station in Oakland around 9:45 p.m., leaving one dead and one injured in a seemingly random double stabbing incident. The suspect is still at large.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, police are searching for a heavy-set white male in his 20s or 30s, approximately 5-foot-9 with spiky hair. Authorities are reviewing surveillance footage and continued searching the surrounding area Monday morning.

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Very little information is known at this time; however, accounts from other passengers such as Nicole Mikels provide some insight into the deadly attack and aftermath. Mikels recalls one sister, who has since been identified as Malika Harris, screaming for help. “Her sister was bleeding bleeding profusely by the neck – her entire torso was covered in blood,” Mikels told the Chronicle.

Although bystanders attempted to calm the suffering victim and life-saving attempts were made, 18-year-old Nia Wilson and former Oakland High student was pronounced dead shortly after her neck was slit by the suspect. Although reports indicate that Harris was also injured in the attack, information regarding her condition has not been yet provided to media outlets.

BART resumed normal operations Monday morning but passengers expressed concern about riding while the suspect is still at large. Several Twitter and Instagram posts suggest racial motivation, although authorities have yet to confirm or deny whether the case is being investigated as a hate crime.

Ebony Monroe, a cousin of the sisters, told the Chronicle that Wilson was a “beautiful, sweet person” who suffered another trauma two years ago when her boyfriend died in a lake drowning incident. Wilson just celebrated her boyfriend’s birthday at a memorial over the past weekend. Monroe is unaware of any link to the suspect or motive for the attack. “She was just an innocent kid, and she didn’t deserve this,” Monroe said.

This story is developing and updates will be provided as new details become available.

Update: July 23, 12:47 p.m.

BART authorities have released the name of the suspect as 27-year-old John Lee Cowell and KRON4 describes Cowell as 190-pound transient from the Oakland-Emeryville area. KRON4 has photos of him as well.

Update: July 23, 5:30 p.m.

Hundreds gathered for a vigil and rally held at MacArthur BART station. After a series of speeches, the crowd marched from the BART station back to Make Westing at 18th Street and Telegraph Avenue, where it was reported that a Proud Boys rally would be held.

Update: July 23, 7:40 p.m.

News spread that John Lee Cowell was arrested at Pleasant Hill BART and was in custody in connection with Nia Wilson’s death.

Update: July 23, 7:50 p.m.

The event was peaceful until a late incident where several protesters were filmed running after and allegedly attacking people they believed to be members of Proud Boys.

If you have any information regarding the attack or suspect, please contact BART police immediately at (877) 679-7000. 

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled MacArthur.

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.