Bay Area on edge after dozens of teens swarm train, rob passengers

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Bay Area authorities are reviewing video in the hopes of identifying a mob of teenagers who swarmed a BART train and robbed and assaulted passengers over the weekend.

The violent encounter took place Saturday night at the Coliseum Station in Oakland.

Two station agents reported seeing between 40-60 youths coming from another event in the area. Officials say the large group jumped over fare gates at the station before storming a train as the doors were opening.

In a matter of seconds, the suspects stole passengers’ bags and cellphones before fleeing.

“Initially everyone was kind of confused. It looked like everyone was horsing around,” one female passenger told CNN affiliate KPIX. “It then started looking like things were turning more violent. By the time I realized it was turning violent, someone had already snatched my phone and half of them had run out. I looked back again and saw that they were attacking this one family.”

BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost told CNN affiliate KGO that two passengers were punched in the face by the robbers. In all, seven passengers were robbed, Trost said.

“It’s very upsetting. We don’t want our passengers to go through something like this,” Trost told KGO.

Witnesses did not report seeing any weapons, she said.

As of Tuesday, the juveniles had not been caught.

“It’s scary,” BART rider Chris Williams told KPIX. “It was planned … they know there’s not a lot of police around.”

In a statement, BART said it’s working with other agencies to bring the juveniles to justice.

“We have created additional overtime shifts for officers who will be visibly patrolling stations, and video is being pulled from both the train cars and station cameras. Our investigators will be distributing the footage among local law enforcement agencies as well as school districts, where we have had previous success in arresting juveniles who commit crimes on BART.”

BART said it’s not releasing video footage to the public because of the youths appeared to be juveniles.

The transit agency added that overall crime on BART has been declining “and we want to stress that this robbery is neither reflective of the safety of our system nor of public transportation generally. We strive to provide a safe place for our passengers, and condemn this unprecedented, unacceptable, violent behavior in the strongest of terms.”

In its statement, BART also said it’s working diligently to reduce the likelihood of this type of crime occurring again.