HAYWARD (CBS SF) — A man who was stabbed to death on a BART train Tuesday afternoon was a Good Samaritan who had tried to intervene in an attempted theft, a BART spokesperson confirmed.
BART announced that the station had reopened at 5:18 p.m. after being shut down since 1 p.m. due to the stabbing incident. The suspected was arrested after fleeing and attempting to carjack bystanders nearby.
BART is recovering from an earlier problem. South Hayward station has re-opened. There is a 20-minute delay on the Warm Springs Line in the Warm Springs, Richmond and Daly City directions due to earlier police activity at South Hayward station.
— SFBARTalert (@SFBARTalert) November 20, 2019
During a 4 p.m. press conference, interim BART Police Chief Ed Alvarez announced that authorities first received a report about a fight between two male individuals in their 40s on a Warm Springs-bound train just leaving the Bay Fair station at about 1 p.m.
“The fight continued through our Hayward station, at which point a knife was introduced into the fight between the two males as the train approached South Hayward,” said Alvarez.
Police confirmed the confrontation began over some type of theft of a passenger’s personal property. The stabbing victim intervened to break up the fight before the suspect stabbed him.
BART police had gotten calls of a person acting erratically on the street before the incident began.
Hayward police and BART police responded at the South Hayward BART station and determined there was a bleeding man on the train who was the victim of a stabbing.
Alvarez said BART and Hayward police officers got a good description of the suspect and conducted an area search, stopping a suspect matching the description on Tennyson Road about a block from the BART station at a car dealership.
BART general manager Robert Powers released a statement that said they’d increased the presence of officers, non-sworn officers and fare inspectors throughout the system.
But when KPIX went into the South Hayward station just before 8 p.m. at the South Hayward station, there was no police presence or BART employees on the platform or on several trains.
Steve Castro, an employee at the dealership, described what happened. He was talking to an older couple looking at a van when he was confronted.
“Somebody grabbed my hand. I thought it was a customer, but saw me and he pushed me away,” Castro said. “He had no shirt on. I saw him and he pushed me away. I said, ‘Whoa! Hey bro, give me the keys back!'”
The suspect then tried to get into the van with the keys, leading the employee to grab at the suspect and pull him from the vehicle before they began to fight.
“He hit me in the face, so I hit him back. And I said, ‘Give me the keys back!’ And he said ‘No!’ so I hit him again,” Castro explained.
He said the suspect then tried to get into another person’s car before he was taken into custody.
Alvarez described the incident as “something very tragic and rare on BART,” and gave the public assurances that BART is still safe to ride, pointing out that this was a fight and not a random attack.
Alvarez said he didn’t yet know if the victim and suspect knew each other or why the fight started.
BART authorities said the investigation into evidence in the fight and alleged stabbing was ongoing.
“Our system has very robust cameras, both on the train cars and in the station and platform,” said Alvarez. “Our video is getting recovered and retrieved by our video and recovery unit and that is going to be part of the investigation and review process by our investigators.”
Castro said he’s grateful the man he was helping and his wife, who had been pushed to the ground by the suspect, were not seriously hurt.
“I’m OK, I’m OK,” said Iayale Samatar.
According to Castro, an officer told him that a murder suspect was behind bars thanks to him.
“He says, ‘You did a good job, you did a good job,’” Castro said.
Police were still interviewing witnesses in their investigation into the fight.
Powers also said that BART would immediately increase the presence of BART police officers throughout the system in response to the deadly incident.
BART Board director Debora Allen released a statement about the incident Tuesday night:
“I am deeply saddened by the news today of more horrible violence on BART. This is yet another reminder of BART’s urgent public safety need to address its porous system and the inadequate size of its police force. How many more innocent riders must die violently on BART trains at the hands of mentally challenged people before the Board of Directors directs the GM to take swift meaningful action?
Earlier, an outgoing voice message for BART public information officer Jim Allen intially said that a crime had been committed on a BART train and was being investigated by BART police and Hayward police. He said the transit system also plans to increase the number of non-sworn Community Service Officers and Fare Inspectors.
“The safety of our customers and employees is, and always will be, our top priority,” Powers said.
Allen later clarified that the investigation was into a fatality that happened on the train, but did not offer any additional details.
BPD confirms they’re investigating a fatality aboard a train at the South Hayward Station. Our thoughts are with the deceased and his loved ones.
— SFBART (@SFBART) November 19, 2019
The SF BART alert Twitter account initially posted that there were delays at the station in the Warm Springs direction at about 1:15 p.m.
There is a 10-minute delay at South Hayward in the Warm Springs direction due to police activity.
— SFBARTalert (@SFBARTalert) November 19, 2019
The account later announced that the delay had increased to 20 minutes and that AC Transit was providing mutual aid to get passengers around the issue.
There is a 20-minute delay on the Warm Springs Line in the Warm Springs and Daly City directions due to police activity at South Hayward. AC Transit is providing mutual aid on bus #99 for service between Hayward, South Hayward, and Union City.
— SFBARTalert (@SFBARTalert) November 19, 2019
The South Hayward station was closed starting at 1 p.m. BART spokesman Chris Filippi said.
Filippi said during the closure, trains were single-tracking through the station without stopping. He said that prompted “major delays” in the BART system.
BART officials said the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District bus system provided mutual aid on bus No. 99 for service between Hayward, South Hayward and Union City.