18-year-old Nia Wilson was stabbed to death over the weekend at an Oakland BART station by 27-year-old John Cowell. There has been an outpouring of support for the young woman’s family as well as outrage for the violence that occurred on July 22.
“She needs her justice,” said Nia’s cousin Ebony Monroe. “She was just an innocent kid, and she didn’t deserve this. And he did this for no reason.”
Celebrities from Kehlani, Janelle Monae, Anne Hathaway and more have used their platform to bring awareness to this senseless tragedy. Kehlani, a Bay Area native, said the attack was racially-motivated and called to put an end to the violence.
“This was a HATE CRIME,” she wrote. “No ‘random’ BART stabbing. no, she wasn’t specifically targeted but her race and gender was.” With the incident making headlines around the country calling for change, here are some fast facts gathered from around the web about Nia Wilson and her tragic death.
1. Wilson Was Well-Rounded And Aspirational
The youngest of six sisters and two brothers, Nia Wilson had a head full of dreams far beyond her short 18 years and a good heart to back it up. A recent graduate of Oakland High School, Wilson (who loved to look presentable at all times) had goals to work in the criminal justice field or become a lawyer, according to one of her sisters. She also had her CPR training, and performed the Heimlich on a choking family member during an event.
Later on this week, she was scheduled to go for a job interview, and she organized a birthday party for what would have been her high school boyfriend’s 18th birthday; he reportedly drowned in 2016.
“She was always there and motivating you and telling you to stay positive,” said one of her sisters, Maya Harris, on Wednesday (Jul. 25). She was also a budding rapper; her sister blasted her music during one of the protests in California.
“My daughter was everything to me,” Nia’s father Ansar Muhammad told reporters. “She was so beautiful, so inspirational, had dreams. I’m supposed to be planning her graduation, not her funeral.”
— Lucas Guilkey (@lucasguilkey) July 24, 2018
2. Nia’s Killer Was Unprovoked
The man who stabbed Nia to death, 27-year-old John Cowell, was reportedly unprovoked when he approached her and her sister at an Oakland BART Station on Sunday night (Jul. 22).
“She’s just yelling my name, ‘Tifah, Tifah, Tifah,’ and I said, ‘I got you, baby, I got you,'” said Nia’s sister Lahtifa Wilson, who was also attacked. “All of a sudden we transfer just to get blindsided by a maniac, for what, I don’t know.”
Cowell was reportedly diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and he was released from the Atascadero State Mental Facility and Prison in early May. He’s being charged with assault with a deadly weapon, violating parole and first-degree murder.
While there is a strong possibility the attack was racially motivated, authorities explained that they do not have information that supports the theory at this point in time.
3. There Have Been Three BART Station Homicides In A Week
According to the New York Post, San Franciscans are understandably on edge due to unprovoked attacks at BART Stations. Wilson’s incident was reportedly the third incident of violence at a BART Station in one week.
On Friday (Jul. 20), 51-year-old Gerald Bisbee died after suffering from an infection he received from sustaining cuts after being attacked at the Pleasant Hill Station in Walnut Creek. Additionally, a 47-year-old transient man was declared brain dead after being punched in the head by an unidentified suspect on Saturday (Jul. 21) at the Bay Fair Station in San Leandro.
Maybe I should start driving to school, because I don’t think I feel safe as a BART commuter anymore. But then again, I’m a woman of color. Am I safe anywhere? My car? On campus? At an event? Walking my dogs?
— Keani (@keani_yafreak) July 24, 2018
4. The Wilsons Rarely Took The BART Method Of Transportation
According to reports, the Wilsons rarely took the BART trains, and only used the train on this particular evening to return from visiting family. She and her siblings were attending a pool party at their aunt’s house in Concord, Calif., which required them to ride that particular mode of transportation.
According to Nia’s mother Alicia, she was actually afraid of riding BART trains, and the attack occurred when she was helping a woman struggling to get her stroller through the door off of the train.
“My baby didn’t deserve this. [Nia] hated BART. She was always saying, ‘Mama, I’m scared of BART,'” said Ms. Greyson. “My baby was only 18. She was less than 100 pounds soaking wet. This man just came up and did all this to my baby.”
5. There Is A GoFundMe Page To Support The Wilson Family
As expected, numerous people from around the country are working to help the Wilson family during this tragic time. Malika Harris, one of Nia’s sisters, set up a GoFundMe account in order to help her parents.
“Nia was an 18-year-old young woman who was full of life, smart and beautiful beyond word’s,” the page reads. “Nia loved to do makeup, hair and get dolled up and enjoy life. Nia is a very caring and giving person who was in the wrong place at the wrong time…Please let’s end racism all over the world Nia did not deserve this.”
The GoFundMe has raised over $66,000 of its original $9,000 goal. You can help the Wilson family by clicking here.