Amtrak train stabbings suspect arraigned in Niles; preliminary exam set for Dec. 16

From The Kalamazoo Gazette:

A Saginaw man accused of stabbing four people on an Amtrak train in Niles Friday was arraigned today in Berrien County District Court.

Michael Darnell Williams, 44, was formally charged with four counts of assault with intent to murder, according to the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

He is being held in the Berrien County Jail on a $1 million bond.

Williams’ preliminary examination has been scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 16. He is expected to be represented by a court-appointed attorney, according to the prosecutor’s office.

At about 7 p.m. Friday, the Niles Police Department¬†received a report of a man “acting odd and becoming agitated” on board an Amtrak train heading toward Niles and was requested to send officers to investigate.

Niles Police Chief Jim Millin previously said officers who arrived at the depot noticed a “commotion” on one of the train cars as passengers tried to exit quickly. Officers then pushed their way onto the train and confronted Williams, who was armed with a knife.

Williams was subdued with the use of a Taser and was taken into custody, Millin said.

Millin said officers located four victims on the train car who had been cut and stabbed by the suspect. The victims included a train conductor, who remains hospitalized in stable condition, an Amtrak spokesman said Monday.

Since the incident, several family members have expressed concerns about Williams’ mental health, including his sister, Tracy Williams. She¬†told the Saginaw News that Michael Williams is a veteran who she believes was suffering from paranoid hallucinations that made him fear for his life.

Berrien County Assistant Prosecutor Amy Byrd, who is leading the prosecution of Williams, did not immediately respond to an inquiry Wednesday pertaining to whether a psychological evaluation would be conducted on Williams to determine if he was mentally fit to stand trial.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said earlier Monday that Amtrak is assisting Niles Police Department in the investigation and isn’t conducting its own investigation into the incident.

Knives are prohibited on Amtrak trains, and Amtrak police perform random inspections of passenger baggage, the company said in a statement issued to the Kalamazoo Gazette on Monday.

The stabbings occurred on Amtrak train 364, the Blue Water line, which runs between Chicago and Port Huron, and 172 passengers were on board at the time of the incident.

Source: http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2014/12/amtrak_train_stabbings_suspect.html#incart_story_package

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