NILES, Mich. (AP) — A man accused of stabbing a conductor and three passengers on an Amtrak train in southwestern Michigan before officers subdued him has been charged with four counts of attempted murder, police said Saturday.
Police identified the suspect in Friday night’s attack as Michael Williams, 44, of Saginaw. They didn’t disclose a possible motive, and it wasn’t immediately clear when Williams would make his initial court appearance on the charges.
According to Niles police Chief Jim Millin, a dispatcher received a call at around 7 p.m. from someone on the train about a suspicious person. When officers arrived at the depot in Niles, which is about 10 miles north of South Bend Indiana, the attack was already underway.
Millin said the officers pushed their way through fleeing passengers and confronted Williams, who was carrying a knife. They used a stun gun to subdue him and took him into custody.
The four victims — three males and a female — were taken to Lakeland-Niles Hospital or Memorial Hospital in South Bend. Niles Mayor Michael McCauslin said the wounded included the train’s conductor, a female passenger and two male passengers.
Millin said that although initial reports were that at least one of the victims was in serious condition, all four victims were in stable condition Saturday.
The train, which had been carrying 172 passengers, remained in Niles for hours after the attack while investigators gathered evidence and spoke to witnesses. It finally resumed its journey at 1:20 a.m. Saturday.
Passenger Tyler Vandermolen told South Bend NBC affiliate WNDU-TV that he was sitting several rows from where the stabbing occurred, and that it could have been worse if not for the quick police response.
“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 … within seconds of this happening,” Vandermolen said. “It was pretty incredible that they may have saved some lives today.”
Passenger Caitlin Cipri 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. Cipri said she then 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.”