HAYWARD, Calif. (KTVU) - A fatal stabbing on a BART train at the South Hayward Station on Tuesday stemmed from a fight, authorities said.
KTVU learned from sources that a good Samaritan pulled out a knife to stop a homeless man from stealing another rider's shoes while asleep on the train. The homeless man then disarmed the man of his own knife and allegedly stabbed him to death.
According to BART Interim Chief Ed Alvarez, calls came into the dispatch center around 1 p.m. about a fight involving two men on a Warm Springs-bound train.
The altercation started as the train pulled out of Bayfair Station and as the fight continued into Hayward, one of the men pulled out a knife, stabbing the other, Alvarez said.
Hayward and BART officers were on the platform when the train arrived at the South Hayward Station and found the victim bleeding from his injuries.
The chief described the scene as graphic saying it's, "not something we see a lot of" adding, "It wasn't a random attack."
Police said the suspect ran out of the station, but officers were able to get a good description of the man and he was arrested about a block away on Tennyson Road.
The suspect was also allegedly involved in an altercation at a nearby car dealership. Police did not say to what extent the suspect was involved, but we spoke to a worker at Hayward's Elias Motors, who said the suspect tried to steal a Dodge vehicle from the lot on Mission Boulevard.
“Somebody grabbed my arm and I thought it was a customer. I looked to the side. It was some weird guy with no shirt on and I’m like what the hell?” He looked like a normal homeless guy. Stuff started happening. He swung at me, I swung at him. I just got mad. I want my god damn key back," said Steve Castro with Elias Motors. "I started hitting him and (he was) fighting with me."
Castro, a salesman, said he was showing a minivan to a customer when the suspect tried to steal it. He said their fight ended in the middle of the street and that the suspect tried to steal another car.
Police said the suspect was arrested shortly after the car dealership altercation.
Video of the suspect posted on social media shows him without a shirt, sitting down at a bus stop where he was eventually arrested. The video was taken by a witness who was at the car dealership.
The victim and suspect are both described as men in their 40s.
BART has had some high-profile acts of violence including the stabbing death of Nia Wilson at the MacArthur BART station in Oakland.
Chief Alvarez attempted to reassure riders that the transit system is safe saying the incident was an isolated one.
"It was a fight between two people who had engaged each other," Alvarez added. "The knife was introduced at the fight during that moment.”
BART General Manager Robert Powers said the transit agency would be taking immediate steps to improve rider safety in response.
“We are heartbroken that a person has lost his life due to violence on one of our trains this afternoon. We extend our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of the victim.
BART is taking immediate steps to address concerns many of our riders may have as a result of the tragic death.
Effective immediately, we are increasing the presence of BART Police personnel throughout the system. Additional sworn Police Officers, non-sworn Community Service Officers, and Fare Inspectors will be in the system, on station platforms, and riding the trains as a result of posting additional overtime.
I want to thank the BART Police Department and the Hayward Police Department for their swift action in taking the suspect into custody. We appreciate the partnership we have with local police departments and will continue to work together to ensure safety in and around the BART system.
The safety of our customers and employees is, and always will be, our top priority," Powers wrote.
“It’s crazy. I take BART all the time,” said Neil Hayden, a BART rider from Hayward. “It’s one of those things you see a little violence and people aren't doing the right thing there and you hope you are not singled out by somebody.”
Trains were single-tracking through the station without stopping, and Alameda-Contra Costa Transit buses provided assistance until the station reopened about five hours later.
A man was stabbed and killed on a BART train around 1 p.m. Tuesday. A suspect is in custody.