Who Is John Lee Cowell? Oakland Nia Wilson BART Stabbing Suspect Arrested After MacArthur Station Attack

John Cowell is accused of stabbing two women on a Oakland BART platform BART

The suspect in the fatal stabbing of a woman and the wounding of her sister at the MacArthur Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station on Sunday was arrested on a train to Antioch after being on the run for 21 hours.

BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas told a news conference that an anonymous tip from a rider on a BART train led to the arrest of John Lee Cowell, 27, the Associated Press reported.

Police intercepted the train at Pleasant Hill BART station and arrested the paroled felon, ABC 7 reported. Cowell had no weapon, and did not resist arrest, Rojas said.

Police launched a manhunt on Sunday after 18-year-old Nia Wilson was stabbed to death and her sister, Latifa Wilson, 25, was wounded on a platform at MacArthur BART station. Nia Wilson died from her injuries at the scene, while Latifa Wilson remained in a critical condition in hospital Monday.

Rojas said that surveillance camera footage showed that Cowell had been riding on the same train as the sisters, but they did not interact. As they got onto the platform, Cowell launched the attack, Rojas said.

"It looks like it was an unprovoked, unwarranted, vicious attack," Rojas said, adding police did not have a motive for what he described as a “prison style” attack, in which Nia Wilson was stabbed in the neck twice.

The sisters are black, and Cowell is white. Rojas said that police had not found any connections between Cowell and white supremacist groups.

The East Bay Times reported that Cowell has an extensive criminal record. In 2016, Kaiser Medical in Richmond filed a restraining order against him after he was accused of threatening to kill an employee.

He spent two years in prison after being sentenced for armed robbery and was released on parole four months ago.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, in a statement released after Cowell was caught, expressed condolences to the Wilson family and welcomed news of the arrest.

“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,” she said.

"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.”

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