A machete-wielding man, who was reportedly just casually waving his large knife around while seated on a crowded BART train, was arrested Monday morning in San Francisco, and it sounds like he's been a frequent flyer with local authorities.
The situation unfolded during the morning commute Monday, with a man who was wandering BART cars with a machete. Witnesses on Reddit describe both calm and panic among fellow passengers on the train. (Says one, "I was on this train too, in the car next to him. A bunch of people rushed on to my train car in a panic, people were calling 911 and a woman pressed the emergency button to talk to the train driver, then they thought he was moving on to our train so we all rushed on to the next car. honestly it was really scary, I’m still shaken up." And says another, "It was surprising how many people were calmly seated around him.")
BART police were called to Embarcadero Station at 8:21 a.m., as SF Standard reports. There, they arrested 32-year-old Aknico Charles Heidengren on suspicion of exhibiting a weapon in public, making criminal threats, assault with a deadly weapon, and possession of drug paraphernalia. It is unclear whether he actually assaulted anyone.
Redditor acatnamedwaffles posted the photo below of Heidengren sitting on the the train, with the machete visible, held over his head.
"Should have mentioned it was a full train and just out of view of this shot were people in the seats in front of and next to him… just minding their business and facing forwards. Such a bizarre way to start the morning," the Redditor says.
Heidengren appears to have a rap sheet dating back to 2014 at least, when he was arrested in Solano County for inflicting "corporal injury" on a spouse or co-habitant. He was also charged at that time with violating parole, so clearly the record goes further back.
Heidengren should not be confused with the 24-year-old man, identified as Charles Johnson of San Francisco, who was arrested in May 2023 for wielding a meat cleaver on a BART train and allegedly slashing a passenger. It's not clear from public records where Johnson's case stands.
There was also a January 2017 case in which a man was slashed in the neck at Civic Center Station with a machete or other large knife. The suspect in that case was seen in surveillance video casually carrying the exposed machete behind his back while on a train and in the BART station. It's unclear if he was ever apprehended.
Redditors commenting on Monday's incident remind BART riders to download the BART Watch app. The app allows riders to report crime and incidents like this, and, reportedly, BART police show up fairly quickly when serious reports are made.