Oakland, California — BART police arrested a suspect in connection to two violent crimes hours after releasing images captured by surveillance cameras Monday morning.
Last Thursday at 7:30 p.m., BART police said the suspect approached another passenger and then struck him in the head with bolt cutters in San Leandro. “Just completely unprovoked, no dialogue between him or the victims. He just did the swinging of the bolt cutters and the punch to the face,” BART Police Department Chief Ed Alvarez said.
Surveillance images show the man holding a can of beer. Then, just before the Bay Fair station, officials said he slammed a pair of metal bolt cutters into his victim’s head.
Witnesses said the suspect then punched and kicked the victim before running off the train and out of the San Leandro station. The victim was transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
On Saturday at 7:30 p.m., police said the same suspect punched a passenger in the face two times near the Embarcadero station. “The passenger was standing, holding onto the handrail and he came, took a swing at him, missed, and then hit him again with his right hand right in the mouth,” Alvarez said.
Officials said the suspect got out at the next station after both incidents. Officials also added both attacks were unprovoked and neither involved a robbery.
The suspect, 42 year old Mario Christopher Washington, was spotted by an Oakland Fire Department investigator in downtown Oakland just after 8:30 a.m. Monday. Washington has previous arrests, including for a strong arm robbery in Milpitas in January.
ABC7 News spoke to a man named Pete Mendieta who said the suspect was quiet and appeared subdued. Mendieta approached news crews Monday saying he bought food for the suspect in Millbrae Sunday night, and that he was shocked to hear about the arrest.
This is the first time BART police have released photos since the train camera installation project was completed. “Thanks to the new camera system, we were able to get some new high quality photographs,” Alvarez said.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, in the first half of this year, there was a 35 percent increase in robberies and a 27-percent increase in assaults. That’s compared to the same time period last year. The Chronicle also reports there was a 23 percent decrease in felony arrests.
Police arrested 132 people for felony crimes from January through June compared to 171 during the same time last year.