Man arrested in fatal stabbing of Metro passenger near Universal City station

A man was arrested Monday in the death of a woman who was fatally stabbed on a Metro train, Los Angeles police said.

The passenger, a woman in her 50s whose name has not been released, was found stabbed at the throat at the Universal City station shortly after 5 a.m. Monday, according to Los Angeles Police Department spokesman Drake Madison. The station serves the B Line (formerly Red Line) trains that run from Union Station to North Hollywood.

Police said 45-year-old Elliot Tramel Nowden of Los Angeles attacked the woman while she was on the train. When the train reached the Universal City station, she exited onto the platform.

The Los Angeles Fire Department received a call at 4:59 a.m. from a passerby who reported seeing a "person down," department spokesperson Brian Humphrey said.

As firefighters were on their way, dispatchers received several other calls from people who said they believed the victim was bleeding, but none of the callers was willing to get close enough to confirm anything about her condition, Humphrey said.

The woman was taken to a hospital, where she died from her injuries, Madison said.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said the woman was stabbed as she was getting off the train and security personnel rendered aid until paramedics arrived.

"Metro extends its condolences to her family and friends," the statement said.

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Nowden fled on foot and was apprehended near Ventura Boulevard and Vineland Avenue half an hour later, police said. Nowden was detained and interviewed by homicide detectives and eventually arrested and booked on a murder charge. He is being held on $2-million bail.

Police said they believed Nowden may have other victims and released his photo to urge them to come forward.

Train service to the station was interrupted Monday morning, but resumed by the afternoon.

Monday's stabbing fell on Earth Day, when all rides on Metro's trains and buses were free. Police say the suspect was unknown to officers in the North Hollywood Division.

The stabbing follows a steady increase in violent crimes on Metro trains in recent years. Homicides, aggravated assaults and robberies increased from 2019 through 2023, according to Metro's year-end summary. There was a sharp increase in a separate category of crimes that include battery, vandalism, use of narcotics and sex offenses aboard Metro's trains over the same period.

There were no homicides on Metro trains in 2019, but there were three in 2020, five each in 2021 and 2022, and six in 2023, according to Metro's data. In December 2023, the B Line saw an 18% increase in total crime compared with the previous month, with an increase in aggravated assaults, robberies and larcenies.

Metro estimates 5.7 million riders traveled by train in March, up from roughly 5.1 million rail riders in February.

Roughly 93 million passengers rode on Metro's trains in 2019, but that dipped to nearly 52 million in 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic led many Metro customers to stop riding. Ridership has risen since then but isn't close to pre-pandemic numbers, with just 65 million riders recorded in 2023.

Anyone with information about the stabbing can contact the Los Angeles Regional Crime Stoppers Hotline at (800) 222-TIPS, or (800) 222-8477.

Times staff writer Melissa Gomez contributed to this report.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.