About 24 hours after the stabbing of 18-year-old Nia Wilson and her 26-year-old sister Letifah at the MacArthur Bay Area Transit (BART) station in Oakland, California, police received an anonymous tip from a BART rider that led them to arrest suspected killer John Lee Cowell. The 27-year-old white male, who was recently released on parole, was taken into custody at another BART station.
Nia, who had just graduated from high school this summer, along with two of her sisters, were on their way home from a family get together when the attack happened around 9:45 p.m. According to CBS News, Nia was fatally stabbed twice in her neck and Letifah was injured in the knife attack, before Cowell fled the scene. Her other sister was not harmed. “All of a sudden we transfer [from the train], and just to get blindsided by a maniac. For what? I don’t know why,” Letifah told San Francisco’s ABC 7 News. “He didn’t know us; we didn’t know him,” the SF Gate reports she added.
Right now, police say they have no motive for the ambush — that it appears to be random. But tbh, it’s hard not to think that it could have been racially motivated, especially with what’s going on in our country, in our world. “We don’t know if this was racist. We don’t know if this was random. We don’t know what it was,” Nia’s godfather Daryle Allums told ABC 7 News. He went on to ask the community to “stand down” until all the facts of the incident had been collected.
Cowell was officially charged with first-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and violating parole. He heads to court this Thursday.
Nia’s family has set up a GoFundMe page to raise $9,000, and at the time of publication, they’d already raised $28,544 in just one day.