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California commuter train hero speaks out after stopping stabbing

Passengers get off of a Bay Area Rapid Transit train in August 2001 in Daly City, California. An attacker stabbed two fellow passengers with a large knife on the commuter train Saturday while it was stopped at the Coliseum station in Oakland, California. (2011 file photo/Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

An attacker stabbed two fellow passengers with a large knife on San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit commuter train Saturday while it was stopped at the Coliseum station in Oakland, California.

A man in his 50s was stabbed in the head and the chest, while his sister in her 60s was stabbed in her head. Both are recovering, but the man was still in critical condition the day after the attack.

Who was the hero?

The situation would have been a lot worse had David Harris not intervened and disarmed the attacker.

Harris, a landscaper from Oakland, saw the attack happening and jumped into action. He grabbed the attacker’s arm and wrestled the knife away from him, cutting his own fingers on both hands in the process. Once the suspect was disarmed, Harris tackled the suspect to the ground and held him until police arrived at the scene.

“He was really strong. It took four of us to turn him over on his stomach,” Harris told KPIX-TV.

Law enforcement reportedly arrived on the scene two minutes after Harris had disarmed the attacker. A second person helped Harris hold the suspect down, but this person has not been named.

Who was the attacker?

The suspect in the attack, San Francisco resident Robert Dolph, has confessed to authorities, but police are still unsure what provoked the attack. Harris recalled that during the attack itself, Dolph was “talking gibberish.”

The victims said that they noticed the 32-year-old Dolph pacing back and forth and muttering to himself on the train, and they were attempting to leave the train and avoid a confrontation with him when the attack happened.

“The woman had collapsed to her knees, and her brother, I guess it was her brother, was fighting him,” Harris told KPIX, describing the moment of the attack.

Dolph is currently being held in a Santa Rita jail on two counts of attempted murder.

What else?

BART Deputy Police Chief Lance Haight called Harris “a hero, very courageous.”

BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost released a statement, saying, “The swift response by the station agent and police as well as the intervention by the good Samaritans were all critical to ending the attack and apprehending the suspect.”

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