Man Charged in Michigan Amtrak Stabbings

The four people stabbed aboard an Amtrak train Friday night in Niles, Mich., were reported to be in stable condition on Saturday while the man taken into custody in connection with the assaults has been charged with four counts of assault with intent to murder.

Michael Darnell Williams, 44, of Saginaw, Mich., was charged Saturday and is being held in the Berrien County Jail. Authorities are still searching for a motive in the case.

Williams was being held on $1 million bond and faces an initial court appearance on Monday. Each count carries a possible life sentence.

The assault occurred at about 7 p.m. aboard the eastbound Blue Water as it made a station stop in Niles en route from Chicago to Port Huron, Mich.

Williams is charged with assaulting an Amtrak conductor and three other people.

Passengers aboard the train who were interviewed by reporters following the incident said that police officers stormed the train and subdued the assailant with a Taser.

Niles Police Chief Jim Millin said that police rushed to the Amtrak station after receiving a call that a passenger was “acting odd and becoming agitated.”

Niles Police were en route to the train station when they were told Williams had stood up and assaulted the four victims.

“When officers arrived at the Amtrak depot they observed a commotion on one of the train cars with numerous passengers exiting that car quickly,” Millin said in a written statement. “Officers pushed their way onto the train past the passengers exiting and were immediately confronted by a male subject armed with a knife. Officers quickly subdued the subject with the use of a Taser and he was taken into custody without further incident.”

“They saw commotion in the train car,” Millin said of his officers. “They had to forcefully work their way through the crowd. As soon as the first officer turned into the car, Mr. Williams was less than 10 feet away and he had the knife in his hand. The officer used his Taser and was able to subdue him.

“Certainly there’s a possibility he could have kept on assaulting passengers and things could have been a lot worse,” the chief told The Associated Press.

“It doesn’t appear he was screaming or in anger against any of these people. He just started cutting and stabbing,” Millin said.

Millin said the victims included a female and three males. Williams was ticketed to travel from Chicago to Flint.

Amtrak said 172 passengers were on board the train at the time of the incident.

The Salvation Army also responded to the scene and provided food, coffee, and hot chocolate for the passengers. They were stranded for more than four hours while police conducted an investigation.

The train finally resumed its journey at 1:20 a.m. Saturday.

“It was pretty incredible that they may have saved some lives,” passenger Tyler Vandermolen said of the police response.

Passenger Caitlin Cipri of Chicago told the South Bend Tribune that she was packing her things to get off the train when she heard screaming. She initially thought the suspect was punching a passenger until she saw the butt of a knife. She said she saw the man stab two other people.

“It was terrifying and you don’t think something like that is going to happen to you,” Cipri said. “It’s terrifying that things like this happen.”

“I was in a mob of four people, and at one point people were falling down and people are getting back up,” Cipri said. “It was such a blur just trying to get to an exit.”

Tyler Vandermolen, who was sitting 10 rows from where the stabbing occurred, said, “You see the police getting a lot for bad press with the stuff going on around the country these days, but you got to give it up for these guys they were there in under… within seconds of this happening it was pretty incredible that they may have saved some lives today.”

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