50 to 60 teens swarm Calif. train, rob weekend riders
Some of the robbers allegedly held open the doors of a train car while others streamed inside, confronting and robbing and in some cases beating riders
By Demian Bulwa
San Francisco Chronicle
SAN FRANCISCO — A recent string of robberies on BART trains took a frightening turn when dozens of juveniles swarmed an Oakland station over the weekend and commandeered a train car, forcing passengers to hand over bags and cell phones and leaving at least two with head injuries, witnesses told the transit agency.
BART did not immediately publicize the incident — the first of its kind in recent memory — after it occurred around 9:30 p.m. Saturday at Coliseum Station.
But according to a police summary reviewed by The Chronicle, witnesses said 50 to 60 juveniles flooded the station, jumped the fare gates and rushed to the second-story train platform. Some of the robbers apparently held open the doors of a Dublin-bound train car while others streamed inside, confronting and robbing and in some cases beating riders.
The juveniles “committed multiple strong-arm robberies of bags and cell phones,” said the summary. “At least two victims suffered head/facial injuries requiring medical attention.” Police did not say if any of the suspects were armed, or describe exactly how the passengers were wounded.
The attack was quick, police reported, and the teenagers were able to retreat from the station and vanish into the surrounding East Oakland neighborhood before BART officers could respond. The train that was hit was held for about 15 minutes as authorities investigated the crime and tended to the injured.
BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost acknowledged Monday morning that the robbery took place, but said she wanted to get more information from police before commenting in more detail.
A series of robberies on BART trains in recent week has prompted the agency to increase patrols — though this was apparently the first takeover-style heist.
The incident is likely to present a challenge for BART, which hired a new police chief last week. The agency has struggled to contain fare evaders, and is in the midst of installing surveillance cameras in train cars after The Chronicle reported that most of the existing cameras were decoys.
©2017 the San Francisco Chronicle