Suspect arrested in stabbing death of 18-year-old woman

Aby Rivas
Jul 25, 2018
12:26 P.M.
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A 27-year-old man who was on parole after getting out of prison was arrested on Monday for the senseless stabbing of two young African American sisters, provoking the instant death of one of them.


Members of the Oakland community are outraged after the stabbing of 18-years-old Nia Wilson on Sunday night on a Bay Area Rapid Transit train. The girl was making her way through the transit platform along her sister Latifah Wilson, 26 when a man came out of nowhere and stabbed her in the neck.

Latifah was also stabbed but is now stable. She told ABC 7 that she didn’t notice her wound at first because she was focused on helping her little sister. “She [was] just yelling my name, ‘Tifah, Tifah, Tifah.’ And I said, ‘I got you, baby, I got you,” Wilson said. “We’re gonna’ get through this. I got you, you’re my baby sister.”


Wilson recounted how the man, later identified as John Lee Cowell, stood calmly by the stairs while wiping the blood from his knife.

“I looked back, and he was wiping off his knife and stood at the stairs and just looked — and from there on, I was just caring for my sister. I was in shock. ... I didn’t know I was cut because I was paying more attention to my sister. But he just stood there, like it was nothing.”


Bart Police Chief, Carlos Rojas, said this was one of the most brutal attacks he had ever seen in his 30 years of career, and stated that the surveillance videos showed that it was an “unprovoked, unwarranted, vicious attack.”

After spreading photos of the suspect all over social media and asking people of the community to be on the lookout for the man, authorities got an anonymous call on Monday evening from a patron who spotted Cowell on an Antioch-bound train. Police immediately intercepted a train at Pleasant Hill, where they apprehended Cowell without further incidents.


Nia’s death was the third in less than a week in unrelated attacks on BART. Members of the community have been showing their support to the family as they ask for justice and express their disgust for what many are assuming was a “white supremacism” attack.


Daryle Allums, Nia’s godfather and head of Oakland’s Stop Killing Our Kids group, spoke on Monday in a press conference asking the African American community to stand down but stay together:

“We don’t know if it’s racist, we don’t know if this was random. We don’t know what it was, but we’re asking the African American community to stand down right now. Let’s get this information to find out what really happened.”


Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf shared a statement offering her condolences to the family and addressing the racial dynamic of the killing. She said:

“Although investigators currently have no evidence to conclude that this was racially motivated or that the suspect was affiliated with any hate groups, the fact that his victims were both young African America 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.”


People all over social media have been sharing their condolences and demanding justice for Nia and her grieving family.

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