Police are searching for a suspect in the brutal slaying of a black teen Sunday at the MacArthur BART station in Oakland, Calif. Authorities say 18-year-old Nia Wilson died after her throat was slit by the man, who was identified this afternoon as 20-year-old John Cowell. Her sister, who was also stabbed, survived the attack.
Cowell is not yet in custody. BART released an image of him Monday afternoon via their Twitter account, calling for the public to help find him.
As KTVU.com reports, BART spokesman Jim Allison described Cowell last night as a heavy-set white man in his 20s or 30s. The San Francisco Chronicle adds that he’s approximately 5’9” with short, spiky hair.
Police say Cowell approached the two sisters on the train platform at 9:45 p.m. Sunday night, shortly after they had disembarked. Authorities say the attack appears to be random.
A man who identified himself as the father of the victims, Ansar Mohammed, told KTVU he wanted justice for his daughter.
“I work at Highland Hospital. I see this every single day but I never imagined myself going through nothing like this,” Mohammed said. “That’s my baby girl up there.”
In the background, a voice can be heard wailing.
“This is a parent’s worse nightmare,” he said, holding back tears.
Wilson was a student at Oakland High. One of her cousins, Ebony Monroe, speaking to the Chronicle, called her “a beautiful, sweet person” who was passionate about fashion and beauty. According to Monroe, Wilson had been celebrating the birthday of a boyfriend who drowned in a lake two years ago.
She was just an innocent kid, and she didn’t deserve this, ” Monroe said. “And he did this for no reason.”
Locals at the station on Monday morning told the Chronicle they were shocked by the horrific act of violence, and that they’d never seen or heard anything like it.
“I’ve been riding from this station for more than 15 years, and nothing like this has happened,” Oakland resident Solomon Haile told the paper.