3 killed in 5 days at BART stations. Official calls it an ‘anomaly’

John Lee Cowell, 27, was taken into custody on Sunday night at the Pleasant Hill BART station, police say.
John Lee Cowell, 27, was taken into custody on Sunday night at the Pleasant Hill BART station, police say. Bay Area Rapid Transit

A teenage girl slain Sunday night in a knife attack at a Bay Area Rapid Transit station in Oakland is the third person to die in a week after violence on the transit line.

BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas called the series of deaths “an anomaly” at a Monday press conference, saying the attacks are the “highest priority” for transit police, reported KPIX.

Nia Wilson, 18, and her sister, Latifa, had just exited a BART train at MacArthur Station at 9:36 p.m. when a man who also had been on the train slashed Nia’s throat and stabbed Latifa, police told The Mercury News.

Nia Wilson died at the scene and her sister has been hospitalized in critical condition, according to the publication. Rojas called it “one of the most vicious attacks I’ve ever seen.”

The sisters were returning home after celebrating the birthday of Nia Wilson’s late boyfriend, who drowned two years ago, cousin Ebony Monroe told KNTV.

Police on Monday identified John Lee Cowell, 27, who is homeless, as a suspect in the attack, KNTV reported. Police recovered the knife at a nearby construction site, and they took Cowell into custody Monday evening, according to SFGate. Authorities arrested Cowell at the Pleasant Hill BART station after getting an anonymous tip from a train passenger, SFGate and ABC7 reported.

Earlier last weekend, BART police found Don Stevens, 47, at 1 a.m. Saturday unconscious on the platform at the BayFair Station in San Leandro, KPIX reported. Stevens died of head injuries Sunday at a hospital.

A review of security camera video from the station showed a man punch Stevens in the side of head, Rojas told the station. Stevens then collapsed to the platform. Police are seeking the other man.

On Friday, Gerald Bisbee, 51, was found dead in his home from an infection related to an injury in a Wednesday altercation at a Pleasant Hill BART station, reported KRON.

Bisbee suffered a cut lip and cut to his knee in the fight, according to the station. He went to the hospital Thursday after feeling ill but was sent home, reported KRON. An autopsy showed he had died of an infection, officials said.

Abdul Bey, 20, has been arrested in connection with the attack, police told the station.

BART had not released information about the deaths of Stevens or Bisbee until reporters began inquiring about them, reported The San Francisco Chronicle.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with information on John Lee Cowell’s arrest.

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