BART police are investigating a carjacking at gunpoint in a San Leandro station parking lot as BART and other transit agencies are struggling to get passengers to return after a huge drop in ridership during shelter-in-place orders.
The BART Board of Directors learned of the crime Thursday during a board meeting when a friend of the victim insisted the transit agency do more to protect its riders.
“It’s appalling. It’s very upsetting,” said the friend, whose name could not be clearly heard during the online meeting. “I just want BART to do something better to ensure the safety of riders. This should not happen…. It makes me not want to ride BART at all, ever.”
The victim, 58, an essential worker on her way to work, parked her car at the BART station around 5:30 a.m. when someone stuck a gun in her face and demanded that she surrender her car, her friend said. She was not injured, but the crime was terrifying, he said.
BART Police Chief Ed Alvarez said parking control officers had not yet started work at the time of the incident, but that a police officer in a patrol car was in the lot.
He said the victim’s car was found about two hours later in Oakland after it was involved in a traffic collision and the driver fled. BART police took the car and are following up on leads, Alvarez said.
On Thursday, directors called on BART to provide better lighting and security at stations. Director Liz Ames said the Union City and Fremont stations were “really creepy” at 5 a.m. with one in five lights out and few people around. Director Bevan Dufty said he hoped the incident would lead to more eyes on parking lots.
Director Mark Foley said he was a friend of the victim and has been a co-worker for 20 years. He called for an in-depth look at the incident so BART can figure out how to prevent similar crimes.
“It’s important for us to understand what happened and why it happened and what we can do differently moving forward,” he said.
Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call BART police investigators at at 510-464-7040 or the anonymous tip line at 510-464-7011.