Posts Tagged ‘Assault aboard Amtrak’

Man Arrested for Threatening Amtrak Crew With Knife

November 10, 2020

An Oregon man was arrested for threatening Amtrak crew members aboard the Empire Builder as it crossed Wisconsin last Saturday.

Police said Timothy Isaiah Thomas, 31, of Portland tried to use a knife to get into a secure part of the train.

He was arrested during a stop near Oakdale, Wisconsin. Although Thomas reportedly ran away after the train stopped, he was apprehended by shortly thereafter by Wisconsin State Patrol officers after he was spotted walking along a nearby highway.

No one was injured during the incident, which continues to be under investigation.

Calif. Man Charged with Assaulting Amtrak Conductor

July 6, 2020

A California man was arrested late last week after allegedly assaulting a conductor on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief.

The arrest occurred Thursday in La Plata, Missouri.

Sepanta Rad, 28, was charged with assault, assaulting a police officer and felony resisting arrest.

News reports indicate that Rad was asked to leave the train during the La Plata station stop but then tried to force his way back aboard.

The assault on the conductor reportedly occurred at that point. The suspect was also accused of throwing rocks at the train when a police officer arrived.

The officer was unable to subdue the suspect, who continued to throw rocks. He was finally apprehended after additional police officers arrived at the station.

Amtrak Liable for Assault on Passenger by Employee

April 17, 2018

Amtrak can be held liable for damages caused by the rape of a sleeping car passenger by an Amtrak employee, a federal magistrate judge has ruled.

The assault occurred in Montana aboard the Empire Builder. The woman who was assaulted is from North Carolina.

Charles Henry Pinner, of Detroit was later convicted of the attack and is serving a 60-year prison sentence.

Amtrak had sought to escape liability by saying that Pinner’s actions were outside the scope of his work.

However, Judge John Johnston decided that because Amtrak is a common carrier it has a duty under state law to “use the utmost care and diligence” in providing safe travel and is responsible for employees hired to meet that duty.

Johnston’s recommendations must be approved by U.S. District Judge Brian Morris.

Court records indicate a settlement conference was held in late March pertaining to the North Carolina woman’s lawsuit against Amtrak.

November Trial Set for Michigan Man Charged in Assault Aboard Amtrak Train Last December

August 18, 2015

A Michigan man charged with assaulting four people aboard an Amtrak train last December will go on trial in mid-November.

Michael Darnell Williams, 44, of Saginaw, Michigan, appeared in court on Tuesday for a preliminary hearing on 12 felony charges related to the Dec. 5 incident on the train as it stopped at the Niles, Michigan, station.

Williams pleaded not guilty to the 12 charges he faces and demanded a trial by jury. His next court dates are Sept. 16 for a case conference, Nov. 10 for a status conference and a jury trial starting Nov. 17 or 18.

Although Williams waived the preliminary hearing, the court heard testimony from the train’s conductor, who was stabbed during the incident.

Dontrel Bankhead, 40, was the conductor of the Chicago to Port Huron, Michigan, Blue Water, and the first person to be attacked.

Bankhead said he spoke with Williams after he came back to the cafe car, the last car on the train.

“The person caught my attention,” Bankhead said. “He asked how many people were on the train and how much money was on the train. I was under the impression he was going to rob the train. He also spoke about how much money a conductor made.”

Assistant Prosecutor Amy Byrd wanted Bankhead’s testimony to be put on the record because he had traveled from out of town to testify.

Bankhead said Williams also talked about knowing that people had been killed the week before.

When Bankhead asked Williams to return to his seat, he refused, instead spending five minutes between the café car and a coach.

“He stood between the two cars and then came into the car I was in but again refused to sit down,” Bankhead said. “He had his hands in his pockets since coming out of the cafe car.

“We decided to ask him to be escorted off the train at the next stop. We were 15 minutes past the New Buffalo stop and coming into Niles.”

When the train arrived in Niles, Bankhead said he continued to talk with Williams who at one point said he wanted to say a prayer.

Williams heard a radio transmission about him and saw police officers on the platform at the Niles station.

“I took one step forward and he did not move,” Bankhead said. “Then I saw his hands come out of his pockets and he was holding a knife. He struck me in the neck, in the back of my shoulder, in the rib cage, in my face and in my ear.”

Bankhead said his wounds required surgery and he was hospitalized for three weeks, including one week in South Bend, Indiana, and two weeks in Chicago.

He told the court that he is still recovering and being treated for physical and psychological injuries.

Williams faces five counts of assault with intent to murder, five counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, one count of carrying a concealed weapon and one count of resisting and obstructing police.

The assault with intent to murder charges carry maximum penalties of life in prison, while the assault with a dangerous weapon charges carry maximum penalties and four years in prison.

The carrying a concealed weapon charge has a maximum penalty of five years in prison and the resisting police charge carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison.

Williams was found competent to stand trial earlier this month after receiving medications and treatment for his psychological problems, including paranoia and schizophrenia.

The court has yet to rule whether he can be held criminally responsible for his actions. He remains in jail on $1 million cash or surety bond.

Amtrak Stabbing Suspect Faces 8 New Charges

August 12, 2015

A Michigan man who has been charged with stabbing four people aboard an Amtrak train last December was arraigned on Wednesday on eight new charges.

Michael Darnell Williams, 44, of Saginaw, now faces four charges of assault with intent to murder, as well as one additional charge of assault with intent to murder, five counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, one count of carrying a concealed weapon (knife) and one count of resisting and obstructing police.

The incident happened last Dec. 5 aboard the eastbound Blue Water as it neared a scheduled stop in Niles, Michigan. The train was en route from Chicago to Port Huron, Michigan.

Williams faces a preliminary hearing next Tuesday on the new charges, as well as the four initial charges against him.

No determination has been made as to whether he can be found criminally responsible for the acts.

At the time of the attack, Williams told police he acted after someone he had been talking to “turned into a demon.”

Niles police met the train at the station and arrested Williams, who police said was armed with a knife.

Amtrak conductor Dontrel Bankhead, 40, was stabbed two times in the head, two times in the neck and several other times in the body; passenger Bonnie Cleasby, 59, was stabbed in the abdomen; passenger Dan Stewart, 56, was stabbed once in the check; and passenger Gail Vanhorst, 47, was stabbed in the chest.

The latest charge of assault with intent to murder charge stems from an alleged assault on a Nile police officer

Williams underwent a forensic examination after his arrest and was found to suffer from visual hallucinations, delusions, paranoia and schizophrenia.

He subsequently received treatment and last week was found to be competent to stand trial in a court hearing before Berrien County Trial Judge Dennis Wiley.

Defense attorney Shannon Sible asked to delay the hearing until the court receives a report on whether Williams can be held criminally responsible for his actions.

“He shouldn’t have to make a decision on how to proceed until we get the report on criminal responsibility,” Sible said.

Assistant Prosecutor Amy Byrd said that being held criminally responsible differs from competency to stand trial .

If Williams is found to be not criminally responsible, his attorney could use that as a defense.

Sible said that Williams is frustrated with the time that has elapsed since his arraignment in December.