Man accused of killing 18-year-old woman at Oakland BART station arrested

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The suspect in the double stabbing at MacArthur BART that left one sister dead and another injured is now in police custody. Officers say they followed up on tips from the public and found him on an Antioch-bound train.

BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas held a media availability at Rockridge Station. He says the arrest was uneventful and that the suspect was taken into custody without incident.

VIDEO: The moment the BART stabbing suspect was arrested
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John Cowell is accused of killing 18-year-old Nia Wilson and injuring her sister Letifah Wilson at MacArthur BART. He was arrested Monday afternoon at a different BART station in Pleasant Hill.

A BART rider on an Antioch-bound train captured the arrest of 27-year-old John Cowell on her cellphone camera. Officers had intercepted the train at the Pleasant Hill BART station after getting tips from the public. The man, wanted for Sunday night's double stabbing, had been at large for nearly 21 hours.

"They asked him what his name was. He was truthful with the officers in terms of his name and they asked him for identification and he did provide a California identification," said Rojas.

The arrest comes as a huge relief for the Bay Area, where the random attack has triggered outrage and protest.

VIDEO:What we know about the deadly Oakland BART stabbing
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Here's everything we know about the attack that claimed the life of 18-year-old Nia Wilson.

Police say Cowell pulled a knife on sisters Nia and Letifah Wilson on the platform of the MacArthur Station just before 9:45 p.m. Sunday night. Nia, 18, died from her stab wounds.

"I don't know what it was but he was just always kind of a problem," said neighbor Carol Kincaid.
She has known Cowell since he was a child. She says he's lived in and out of this Concord home and over the years has been in trouble with the law. In fact, according to our media partners at the East Bay Times, Cowell has an extensive criminal record.

Kaiser Medical in Richmond filed a restraining order against him after he was accused of threatening to kill an employee in 2016.

Then he was sentenced to prison for robbery and after serving two years, was out on parole four months ago.

As to what led to Sunday night's stabbing, police still don't have a motive.

"We haven't connected him to any type of radical group or white supremacist group or anything like that," Rojas added.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf released a statement on the suspect's arrest: "The senseless murder of Nia Wilson and the stabbing of her sister Latifah has traumatized our community, and most especially their family and friends. I want to again express my condolences to them, first and foremost. I am relieved to learn that the suspect was apprehended after an anonymous tip from a BART rider led to the arrest of the suspect. May this serve as the first step in bringing justice for the Wilson family, and healing to our community. As the Mayor of Oakland, it's important I acknowledge that this horrific crime has a context. Although investigators currently have no evidence to conclude that this tragedy was racially motivated or that the suspect was affiliated with any hate groups, the fact that his victims were both young African American women stirs deep pain and palpable fear in all of us who acknowledge the reality that our country still suffers from a tragic and deeply racist history. I recognize that Sunday's tragic events came on the heels of news that white supremacists were attempting to gather at a downtown bar this evening. I appreciate the commitment of these establishments to prohibit such activity in their businesses and then decided to hold a "Pro Oakland Movement" event this evening to support organizations that fight bigotry and discrimination on behalf of our community and our values. Oakland has no room for hate or white supremacy."
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