Published: Thu, July 26, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Locals Report Police Use 'Smoke Bomb' to Disperse Oakland Protesters

Locals Report Police Use 'Smoke Bomb' to Disperse Oakland Protesters

BART police identified the suspect as 27-year-old John Lee Cowell.

Cowell was arrested Monday night on a Bay Area Rapid Transit train in the San Francisco Bay Area, about a dozen miles (19 kilometers) from the MacArthur station where Wilson was killed and her sister Letifah Wilson was wounded.

Despite the optics of a white man targeting two Black women, BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas said police just don't know whether the attack was racially motivated. VIDEO: Heartbroken father demands justice after daughter stabbed at BART stationDescribing her sister, Wilson said, "That's my heart, she was my heart, no matter our ups and downs we still come back to each other like it was nothing".

Speaking to reporters later Monday night, Rojas said while there is now no evidence connecting Cowell to "any type of radical group or to a white supremacist group", they have not ruled out racist motivations. "It looks like it was an unprovoked, unwarranted, vicious attack", Rojas said.

Cowell had been released from prison in May following a two-year sentence for second-degree robbery and was on parole at the time of the crime, KRON4 reported.

Stevens' death is just one of three homicides on the BART system in a span of less than seven days.

Nia Wilson, 18, was killed after she and her sister were both stabbed in the neck while changing trains on Sunday night in Oakland.

She said she failed to protect her baby sister, who she described as the "sweetest person on the earth".

Ching Wong  SFBayThousands of people march before a candlelight vigil for Nia Wilson on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland Calif. on Monday
Ching Wong SFBayThousands of people march before a candlelight vigil for Nia Wilson on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland Calif. on Monday

Police said an officer verified Cowell's probation status and then found drugs in his possession when he searched him. The killer suddenly attacked Nia Wilson, 18, Sunday night, stabbing her in the neck on a transit platform without uttering a word, according to witnesses.

John Lee Cowell, who was arrested at the Pleasant Hill BART station on Monday evening, faced charges of murder and premeditated attempted murder Wednesday afternoon at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in Oakland. Cowell reportedly approached Wilson and her sister and slashed their throats with a knife.

The attack occurred around 9:45 p.m. on Sunday evening.

Daryle Allums, Nia's godfather, called on the Black community to wait for the answers before reacting to speculation about whether or not the attack was motivated by hate.

It all began Sunday night when Nia Wilson and her sisters did something they normally didn't do.

"We're gonna get through this, I got you, you're my baby sister", she said.

Relative Malika Harris identified the woman who died as her sister, Nia Wilson, who had attended Oakland High. The movement is called "Say Her Name". On Monday, Lucas Guilkey, a producer for AJ Plus, posted a video of demonstrators dancing to her music in Oakland. "They asked him for his identification, and he provided California ID". "That's what we're out here doing, supporting our family". Police sirens are heard blaring in the background as the crowd continues to viciously pummel the unnamed man. Monroe said. "And he did this for no reason".

Authorities late Tuesday released images of the man they say hit Stevens to the side of the head with a closed fist. Bey was arrested shortly after the attack and remains in custody.

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