OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – While BART police Monday afternoon thanked a bystander for his quick action to subdue a stabbing suspect in a scary weekend incident, some wondered if the attack should elevate concerns about security on the transit system.
Two people were hospitalized after a knife-wielding man attacked his victims who seemed to be chosen at random in the frightening assault at the Coliseum BART station Saturday night.
On Monday afternoon, BART Police officials publicly thanked David Harris, the Oakland resident who stepped in to stop the stabbing.
“David, thanks again. You are a true hero,” said BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas.
But while Harris single-handedly disarmed stabbing suspect Robert Dolph to end what could have been a deadly encounter, hero is the last word he would use to describe himself.
“I didn’t really think about it I just reacted,” said Harris. “There was no other option. People were getting stabbed.”
Dolph — who was seen pacing up and down the train muttering to himself prior to the attack — is being described by authorities as a 32-year-old mentally ill transient.
That is something BART Director Bevan Dufty said the commuter line seeing more of these days.
“More and more people who are homeless and mentally ill are finding their way into subway systems,” said Dufty.
Every day, BART moves some 200,000 people along 112 miles of tracks and stations through some of the biggest cities in the Bay Area.
“It’s a challenge,” said BART Deputy Police Chief Lance Haight. “We’ve had increased ridership. We haven’t increased our staffing.”
In fact, BART is short some 31 officers or about 15 percent of its force. On any given day, between 24 and 26 police officers are on the beat.
“Most officers a beat is two or three stations in patrol cars, explained Haight. “We also have officers riding trains.”
Riders say they want more cops in the system.
“I don’t often see security or BART police,” said BART passenger Shauna Burns
“When asked if the cameras visible all over most BART station were being monitored,” Dufty replied, “Yes, they are being watched.”
“It was recorded on our surveillance video, and we are doing a great job of capturing more and more incidents in the stations and on the trains,” said Haight.
While police responded to the scene of the stabbing within two minutes of getting the call, the outcome of the incident could have been decidedly different in David Harris hadn’t intervened and disarmed the suspect.
BART also recently introduced uniformed fare checkers into the system in an attempt to reduce the number of fare evaders traveling on BART for free. Officials also plan on having attendants manning elevators at certain stations.