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Dec 6, 2014 4:21 PM

Witness: Police maybe saved lives in Amtrak attack

The Associated Press

NILES, Mich. (AP) Police officers churning their way through a chaotic scene aboard an Amtrak train in Michigan are being credited with preventing even more bloodshed after a man stabbed a conductor and three fellow passengers.

"It was pretty incredible that they may have saved some lives," passenger Tyler Vandermolen said.

Michael Williams, 44, of Saginaw was charged Saturday with attempted murder. He's accused of stabbing four people while the train was stopped Friday night at a depot in Niles in southwestern Michigan, about 10 miles north of South Bend, Indiana. The victims were reported to be in stable condition.

Officers rushed to the scene after someone aboard the Chicago-to-Port Huron train called police about a suspicious person.

"Officers pushed their way onto the train past the passengers exiting and were immediately confronted" by Williams, Niles police Chief Jim Millin said. "Officers quickly subdued the subject with the use of a Taser and he was taken into custody."

The motive wasn't known. Williams was being held Saturday at the Berrien County jail and his initial court appearance was scheduled for Monday.

"You see the police getting a lot for bad press with the stuff going on around the country these days, but you got to give it up for these guys. They were there ... within seconds of this happening," Vandermolen told WNDU-TV.

Niles Mayor Michael McCauslin said the wounded included a train conductor, a female passenger and two male passengers.

The train, which had been carrying 172 passengers, remained in Niles for hours after the attack while investigators gathered evidence and spoke to witnesses. It finally resumed its journey at 1:20 a.m. Saturday.

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. She said she 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."

Online records show Williams had a drug conviction in Saginaw County in 1997.


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