Less than 24 hours after a family day out turned to tragedy, a California woman has spoken about her sister’s senseless death.
With her neck still bandaged from where her alleged attacker stabbed her, Lahtifa Wilson revealed how she pleaded with her sister to hold on after she too was stabbed in the neck at an Oakland BART Station on Sunday night.
“I’m her protector and I feel like I didn’t protect her,” she told ABC 7 News. “She’s just yelling my name, ‘Tifah, Tifah, Tifah,’ and I said, ‘I got you, baby, I got you.’”
Lahtifa reassured her sister, Nia, telling her they would survive this, “We’re gonna get through this, I got you, you’re my baby sister.”
Despite Lahtifa’s pleas, her 18-year-old little sister died from her wounds on the MacArthur platform, according to a press release from the BART Police Department.
Late Monday, their alleged attacker, John Lee Cowell, was arrested after BART police released images of him from surveillance footage and police bodycam footage, according to a second press release from the police department.
Cowell, 27, was found via an anonymous tip from another BART rider. He was aboard another train bound for Antioch at the Pleasant Hill Station.
Just hours before Cowell’s arrest, a heartbroken Lahtifa told ABC7 that Nia was the “sweetest person on the earth.”
“She didn’t do nothing to nobody, I didn’t do nothing to nobody and for this to happen is just outright crazy,” she said.
Before the stabbing, Lahtifa told the outlet she and her sister had never met Cowell and were “blindsided” by the attack.
“All of a sudden we transfer just to get blindsided by a maniac, for what I don’t know,” she said.
Allegedly, as Cowell walked away, Lahtifa claimed she saw him standing on the stairs and looking at her and Nia.
“I looked back and he was wiping off his knife and stood at the stairs and just looked,” she claimed. “From then on I was caring for my sister.”
“That’s my heart, she was my heart, no matter our ups and downs we still come back to each other like it was nothing,” she continued.
Cowell is on parole and was released from prison four months ago, BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas told reporters Monday night.
Cowell was previously convicted of felony second-degree robbery, according to SFGate. He was also previously convicted of battery in June 2013.
Rojas said despite claims that Cowell may have links to white supremacist groups, so far investigators “haven’t connected him with any type of radical group or white supremacist group.”
Prior to Cowell’s arrest, Nia’s godfather Darryle Allums spoke to reporters and asked the public to come together and solve the crime.
“We have supported a lot of families with violence, but this is special, this is family,” he said. “They didn’t ask to get cut or stabbed. Those are our baby girls, those are our children. We need the community, especially the African American community to stand down right now.”
- Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
“We don’t know if this was racism, we don’t know if it was random, we don’t know what it was. Let’s get the information to find out what really happened, let’s get the facts so we can deal with this situation,” he added.
On Monday, mourners and protestors marched on the Bay Area streets with a number of small fights breaking out amongst the crowd. On soical media, attenddess also shared video of some in the crowd aengaging in minor squirmishes with police.