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Man slashed BART rider with cleaver in robbery attempt, police say

A BART police officer makes his way down the stairs at a BART platform in San Francisco. | Jessica Christian/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images | Source: Jessica Christian/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

BART police said they have a suspect in custody after riders reported a man slashed a passenger with a cleaver on Wednesday in an alleged attempted robbery.

The incident happened on board an eastbound train near West Oakland Station at 1:03 p.m., according to BART spokesperson James Allison.

BART Police officers say Charles Johnson, 24, of San Francisco stabbed a 25-year-old man with a cleaver-style knife as the victim ran away from Johnson on the train.

Johnson attempted to flee with the victim’s backpack after exiting the train at West Oakland, but officers apprehended him without incident and recovered the weapon and the victim’s backpack, BART’s interim police chief Kevin Franklin said in a statement.

READ MORE: Man Arrested After Riding BART With Gun on Display, Police Say

Johnson will be booked at Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County on assault with a deadly weapon, robbery charges and a probation violation. A prohibition order has been issued to Johnson, which bans a rider from using BART for 30 days to one year.

The victim was transported to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, the BART Police statement said.

James Temple, a journalist at the MIT Technology Review, posted to Twitter at 12:53 p.m. that a man with a cleaver was chasing people through BART train cars.

Allison said there was one potential victim according to preliminary information and the train the incident happened on has been sent to a Concord maintenance facility for evidence gathering. Mission Local first reported the incident.

Service on BART’s Yellow Line returned to normal as of 1:25 p.m., Allison said.

An EMC Research poll of 1,000 Bay Area residents released on Tuesday found that safety and cleanliness were two major impediments to getting people back on BART.

Among all respondents, 53% said they know of someone who has been a victim of a crime on BART and 46% have personally witnessed a crime on the system.

Overall, 79% of respondents said they would feel more comfortable riding BART if there were a uniformed police officer or security guard on board. However, around one-third also said they didn’t trust BART police officers to treat all passengers fairly and equitably. 

A BART train arrives at the 16th Street Mission Station in San Francisco. | RJ Mickelson/The Standard

BART announced a plan to boost its uniformed police presence on trains and stations earlier this year in an effort to prevent disruptions and reassure riders that trains are safe. But the total number of officers on trains are still under 30. The survey was conducted after the plan for additional police was implemented. 

Around 85% of BART riders who have reduced or eliminated their usage said they would ride the system more often if it was significantly cleaner and safer to ride. According to the poll, their top priorities include more frequent cleaning, making sure restrooms were in working order and ejecting people who violate BART’s code of conduct, which expressly prohibits drug use, fare evasion and vandalism.

In March, a man reportedly pistol-whipped a passenger on a BART train, accidentally firing the gun.

Joe Burn can be reached at jburn@sfstandard.com