27-year-old man sought in deadly stabbing at BART station

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A father is pleading for justice after his two daughters were stabbed at the MacArthur BART station Sunday night. 18-year-old Nia Wilson died from her injuries and her sister 26-year-old Lahtifa Wilson was taken to the hospital. Lahtifa Wilson was later released from the hospital. 

A man who identified himself as the father of the victims showed up to the scene Sunday night. 

"I want justice for my daughter. Please help me get justice for my daughter," Ansar Mohammed said through tears. "I work at Highland Hospital I see this every single day but I never imagined myself going through nothing like this. That’s my baby girl up there.”

Ebony Monroe said Monday her cousins, Nia and Tashiya were heading home on BART at around 9:30 Sunday night after celebrating Wilson's late boyfriend's birthday. He drowned two years ago in a lake.

According to BART spokesman Jim Allison, the attacker was riding on the same Warm-Springs bound train as the women. Both the suspect and victims boarded a BART train at Concord Station at the same time. The attacker then followed the women off the train at the MacArthur station when he stabbed them on the platform in what appears to be a random attack. 

BART police identified the suspect as 27-year-old John Lee Cowell. His image was captured on surveillance video. Cowell is Caucasian, stands 5’ 8”, and weighs 190 pounds.  Cowell has short, dark hair as well as a closely cropped beard and mustache.  Police say he is a transient and a violent felon who is currently on parole. Cowell should be considered dangerous and anyone who sees him should immediately call 9-1-1. 

BART police said Cowell was seen on surveillance video changing his clothes after the attack which they said could be considered an admission of guilt. BART police chief Carlos Rojas said there's no indication at this time that the attack was racially motivated. 

The three photos released by the transit agency of the suspect include one from a recent interaction last week with a BART officer recorded by the officer's body-worn camera, a previous booking photo of him, and surveillance footage from Sunday night, according to BART.

At around 8:00 a.m. Monday a KTVU crew watched police recover a large knife from a construction site under Highway 24 along the MacArthur BART access road. BART police later confirmed that the knife is the suspected murder weapon. 

“The senseless and violent stabbing of two young women on a BART train platform last night has shaken our community. Every parent who saw the father of Nia Wilson grieve for his daughter is heartbroken by this horrific act," Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement Monday.