OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Police on Sunday were searching for a man who fatally shot a passenger on a packed Bay Area Rapid Transit train and then fled when the train stopped at the West Oakland station, causing panic among riders who thought it was a terrorist attack.
The suspect fled the train as some passengers frantically tried to save the shooting victim Saturday night, while others ran out of the train or got on the ground.
Brad Chapin, a psychology student from San Francisco, told the Oakland Tribune he was wearing earbuds and watching a video on his phone when heard shots being fired.
“Everyone just got down on the ground. People were screaming. It was chaos,” Chapin said. “We didn’t know if there were terrorists there or what.”
He said about half of the passengers ran out of the train.
“So many people thought they were going to die,” Chapin said. “It was terrifying.”
BART spokesman Jim Allison confirmed Sunday that the shooting was an isolated incident and not part of a terrorist attack.
BART police Lt. Aaron Ledford said the victim, who has not been identified, was in possession of “some sort of knife.”
Police detained a man who fit the description of the suspect shortly after the incident, but later released him after determining he was not involved, Ledford said.
Witnesses told KGO-TV, an ABC affiliate, they saw a scruffy man get on the train two or three stops before the attack and that as the train approached the West Oakland station, he pulled a gun and opened fire on a passenger seated next to the door and fled.