HAYWARD, Calif. -- The suspect charged Thursday with fatally stabbing a man who tried to stop a theft on a San Francisco Bay Area commuter train was considered a “missing person at risk” because he walked away from a hospital, but authorities said that label didn’t mean he was considered a threat.
Bay Area Rapid Transit interim Police Chief Ed Alvarez said Wednesday that a barefoot Jermaine Brim walked away from San Leandro Hospital, which listed him in its records as a “missing person at risk” before he allegedly fatally stabbed Oliver Williams, 49, on a train Tuesday. Alvarez didn’t say when Brim left the hospital.
BART spokesman Christopher Filippi said a person can be listed as “at risk” because they were the victim of a crime, need medical attention, have no history of running away or are mentally impaired.
Officials haven’t said if Brim, 39, has mental health issues and a San Leandro Hospital spokeswoman wouldn’t discuss the case, citing patient privacy laws.
Williams tried to stop Brim from stealing a sleeping passenger’s shoes and the two got into a fight, Bay Area Rapid Transit officials said in a statement. Williams pulled a knife that was wrestled away by Brim, who then used it to stab Williams several times, they said.
Brim was wearing only pants when he was arrested near the Hayward station after he tried to steal a van at a car dealership.
Brim was charged in an Alameda County court on Thursday with murder, two counts of attempted second-degree robbery and two counts of attempted carjacking. He did not enter a plea and refused to show his face in the courtroom, according to the Mercury News of San Jose.
It was not immediately clear if he has an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
It’s also not clear whether any public officials would have been notified after Brim left the hospital. Many patients leave hospitals at their own discretion, and it’s up to individual hospitals to decide in each case whether to contact authorities, said Jan Emerson-Shea, a spokeswoman for the California Hospital Association.
Emerson-Shea, of the hospital association, said the only way a hospital can retain a patient is if a medical expert determines them to be a danger to themselves or others.
“And even then, they can only be held for up to 72 hours,” Emerson-Shea said.