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Man charged with stabbing 4 on Amtrak train talks to detectives

DETROIT — Detectives will be looking into the mental state of a Michigan man charged with attempted murder in the stabbings of three other passengers and a conductor on an Amtrak train, a police chief said Sunday.

Michael Williams, 44, of Saginaw, spoke over the weekend with detectives, but Niles Police Chief Jim Millin declined to discuss possible motives behind the Friday night attack.

“We have a better understanding of how that went,” said Millin, who added that Williams’ mental state at the time of the stabbings will be part of the investigation.

Williams faces an initial court hearing Monday. He was being held in the Berrien County Jail on a $1 million bond.

Michael Darnell Williams | Niles, Michigan, police photo
Michael Darnell Williams | Niles, Michigan, police photo

He was one of the 172 passengers on the train that was headed from Chicago to Port Huron, northeast of Detroit. The stabbings occurred while the train was stopped at a depot in Niles in southwestern Michigan, about 10 miles north of South Bend, Indiana.

Niles police officers had been rushing to the depot after Amtrak reported one of the passengers was acting suspiciously. Officers forced their way into one of the train cars after seeing a commotion inside, Millin said Saturday.

“As soon as the first officer turned into the car, Mr. Williams was less than 10 feet away and he had the knife in his hand,” Millin said. “The officer used his Taser and was able to subdue” him.

The injured passengers and conductor were in stable condition Sunday at area hospitals.

Millin said there is nothing to indicate Williams had any previous relationships with the victims. Police recovered a hunting-style knife thought to have been used in the attack, he added.

Ethel Williams, 89, told the Associated Press during a phone interview Sunday that her grandson was never the same after military service and that he once told her “it seemed like everywhere he goes people was following him.”

She said she has not seen her grandson in a long time. She added that he had spent 10 years in the Army, but didn’t know when he left military service.

“They need to see what’s wrong,” Ethel Williams said. “It had to be something wrong with that boy.”

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jeff Pool was not able Sunday to verify whether Williams served in the military.

Millin said Sunday that investigators will be looking into Williams’ background, including any military service.