Man charged with attempted murder in Amtrak attack

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Police say a man accused of stabbing an Amtrak conductor and three train passengers in southwestern Michigan has been charged with four counts of attempted murder.

Niles Police Chief Jim Millin identified the man as 44-year-old Michael Williams of Saginaw. He was being held on a $1 million cash bond Saturday at the Berrien County jail and his initial court appearance was scheduled for Monday.

Williams was arrested Friday evening on an Amtrak train near Niles after police were alerted to the stabbings at about 7 p.m. Friday by a 911 caller.

Michael Williams

When officers arrived at the scene, passengers were rapidly exiting the train car in question, police said. Officers entered the car and used a stun gun on Williams.

Williams had boarded the train in Chicago with a destination of Flint, police said.

The victims included a conductor, and a woman and two men, Niles Mayor Michael McCauslin said. They were taken to Lakeland Healthcare Hospital in Niles and Memorial Hospital of South Bend, Indiana.

Police said Saturday that all of the victims were in stable condition.

Michigan State Police and Berrien County Sheriff's deputies assisted in response and investigation, McCauslin said.

A photo posted on Twitter by an Amtrak passenger shows police had handcuffed a suspect in the stabbing of four people on the train in Niles, on Friday.

Passenger Caitlin Cipri told the South Bend Tribune that she was packing her things to get off the train when she heard screaming. She initially thought the suspect was punching a passenger until she saw the butt of a knife. Cipri said she then saw the man stab two other people.

"It was terrifying and you don't think something like that is going to happen to you," Cipri said. "It's terrifying that things like this happen."

News of the incident sparked several responses on Twitter, where a user posted pictures that appeared to show a man handcuffed, face-down on the floor of a train.

One user posted a picture of what appeared to be a blood-spattered corridor. He wrote: "one victim was a conductor. Sad sad stuff."

One man tweeted: "Friend on Amtrak currently stuck in Niles, MI. Stabbing attack, suspect in custody. 4 people seen on stretchers, 1 worse than others."

Another wrote: "I am on Amtrak. Guy in car ahead of us stabbed passengers. Police got him. Injuries not fatal. We are near Niles MI We will be transferred."

Kimberly Woods, Amtrak spokeswoman, said the incident took place on Train 364 — which travels daily between Chicago and Port Huron and was heading to the Michigan city.

"The Niles City Police Department has a person in custody and the investigation into the incident is ongoing. The Amtrak Police Department is assisting in the investigation," Woods wrote in an email to The Detroit News.

"Amtrak has arranged alternate transportation for 172 passengers."

The Associated Press contributed.