While changing to a connecting train at MacArthur station, the trio were approached by a fellow passenger. Then, without saying a word, the individual pulled out a knife and swung at Wilson’s throat, cutting it. “He didn’t know us, we didn’t know him,” sister Letifah told KGO-TV in July 2018. “But he just stood there, like it was nothing.”
Within moments, Wilson would be dead, and the assailant – who also stabbed Letifah in the neck – would be long gone. One day later, however, police arrested John Cowell – a multiple offender released on parole – for the attack. And in the aftermath of Cowell’s apprehension, his relatives issued a statement claiming that the suspect suffered from both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
However, this message was not accepted by Wilson’s family. Some of the African American teen’s loved ones have accused Cowell – a white man – of committing a hate crime, and they are demanding that Cowell be tried on such terms. “[Cowell’s relatives] are trying to say that he was sick and crazy,” Malika told The New York Times. “[Instead,] it was an act of racism.”