Passengers on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) didn’t need coffee to get jolted awake last Friday, as their morning commute featured a man screaming at the top of his lungs: “I’m going to kill you.”
A belligerent rider made it his goal to terrorize the entire train, shouting death threats at his fellow passengers through a full seven stops. At the North Concord/Martinez BART station, the terror began.
“I’m going to stab all of you,” the man yelled, as the passengers clustered, waiting for the station gates to open.
Passenger Mike Hohndorf told the San Francisco Chronicle he doesn’t think the police handled the situation seriously.
After the man shouted, “I’m going to kill you,” Hohndorf says he told officers to please remove the disturbance.
“I go, ‘You need to remove this guy. He’s a danger to himself and he’s a danger to others,’” Hohndorf recalled.
Unbelievably, the cops allowed the man to get on the train.
“I look to the left, and I’m watching the guy get on the train with the cop standing there,” Hohndorf said.
Still feeling uncomfortable in the man’s presence, Hohndorf used the train’s intercom to reach the train’s operator.
“He says to me, ‘I know. Other people have already called it in. The police will be boarding the car at 12th Street,’” Hohndorf described.
The perpetrator eventually got off at MacArthur Station, but police say they are not legally allowed do anything when someone is only guilty of yelling hateful things.
“We understand that when you’re in a public space and you’re riding BART, sometimes you’re on a train with someone that makes you feel uncomfortable,” BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said. “That doesn’t mean, necessarily, that we can prevent that person from boarding.”
According to Lance Haight, BART’s deputy police chief, the first officer who spoke with the perpetrator determined he wasn’t a threat.
“We can only take enforcement action when the person has either broken the law or if they’re a danger to [themselves] or others, and that did not appear to be the case based on what our officer saw in the parking lot,” Haight said.
But Hohndorf’s request for safety didn’t fall on deaf ears.
“There’s a lot going on in our system, and we all have to look out for each other,” Trost said. “Safety is clearly the top priority.”
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