Oakland police are adding more security to their Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) stations after a large group of teenagers terrorized commuters after boarded a train at Coliseum Station, taking over at least one train car, forcing passengers to hand over bags and cell phones and injuring at least two in the process on Saturday, April 21.
According to witnesses, 40-60 youths jumped the fare gates at the station, ran up to the second-storey platform at approximately 9:30pm and flooded onto the Dublin-bound train, with some of the kids holding the train doors open to make access for the counterparts easier. Once aboard, the teenagers proceeded to rob and in some cases beat the passengers before disembarking again. Things could have been a lot worse, however, as only a total of seven people were robbed, losing a purse, a duffel bag and five phones. There were no reports of weapons being used.
“I’ve been there 24 years and this is the first time I’ve heard of anything like this happening,” said Keith Garcia, a BART police officer and union president after the event, one reminiscent of the late-’70s film classic, The Warriors. Of the seven people who had property stolen, six were aboard the train at the time, the seventh was on the platform. At least two of the victims suffered head injuries that required medical attention.
The attack was so quick that the teenagers were able to escape and disappear back into the surrounding East Oakland neighborhood before BART officers could even respond. Alicia Trost, a BART spokesperson, said that police were at the station within five minutes, however the robberies had happened within a matter of seconds. Six of the nine BART cars had video surveillance which the police are analyzing, but images cannot be released as the perpetrators were minors.
“We are in the process of pulling all surveillance video, and we will share with Oakland police, Oakland Unified School District and Oakland Housing Authority to see if they can help identify the minors,” Trost said. “We have had success with sharing images of juveniles with this group and identifying and making arrests in the past.” As a result of the attack, all BART train cars will have working video security installed by the end of June.