Nia Wilson's Family to Sue BART After Deadly Stabbing Attack

Those behind the lawsuit are alleging that the suspect jumped BART's fare gates before the deadly attack and should have been stopped for doing so

More than one week after an 18-year-old woman was fatally stabbed at the MacArthur BART Station in Oakland, her family plans to sue the transit agency.

The law firm representing Nia Wilson's family is alleging that suspect John Cowell, 27, jumped the agency's fare gates before the attack and should have been stopped for doing so, noting that the crime was foreseeable and preventable.

Cowell is accused of stabbing Wilson and her older sister on July 22 at the East Bay station. Wilson was pronounced dead at the scene while her older sister managed to survive.

Cowell, who initially fled from the scene following the nighttime attack, hopped on BART the following day before he was arrested at the Pleasant Hill station.

The lawsuit will also allege that other criminals freely come and go on BART because of a lack of security at fare gates.

BART issued a statement in response to the impending lawsuit.

"Nothing is more important than the safety of our riders and employees," part of the statement read. "In the last several years BART has launched a multi-prong approach to reduce fare evasion including a new proof of payment ordinance and inspection teams as well as infrastructure changes to make it harder to bypass fare gates."

The transit agency noted that it has more than 4,000 surveillance cameras in operation throughout the transportation system and that police patrols resulted in a 40 percent increase in arrests last year.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said it's likely this tragedy will prompt even more security reviews.

"Every public agency that goes through a trauma is responsible for learning from that trauma and making improvements and doing better," Schaaf said. "Doing everything in your power to prevent the tragedy from ever happening again."

On Thursday, Wilson's family and friends gathered at City Hall for an Open Mic session to share their thoughts and grief following a viewing.

"She looks like a princess, she is so beautiful," said family friend Robin. "Beautiful in life, beautiful right now. So sad what happened, 18 years old, still a baby.”

Wilson's funeral is scheduled for Friday in Oakland.

Contact Us