Two men and a teen-ager chased an 18-year-old man onto a Mass Transit Administration bus in West Baltimore yesterday and -- in front of 50 passengers -- beat him with a baseball bat and shot him twice in the legs, police reported.
Damon Zarnel Allen was shot once in each thigh about 4 p.m., moments after he boarded the standing-room-only bus at Poplar Grove Street and Edmondson Avenue in an apparent attempt to escape from three assailants who were chasing him, police said.
"They pushed him into the bus driver and one of the guys was beating him with a bat . . . then another guy started shooting him in the legs. They had no regard for human life. People on the bus were terrified and were screaming and yelling," said Michelle Mack, 22, a Baltimore City Community College student who was on the bus.
Police said Mr. Allen, of the 800 block of Stamford Road, paid the $1.25 fare and had just walked through the door when the three attackers boarded and started beating him. As he was being beaten with a bat by one man, another fired three shots from a revolver, police said.
Two of the shots struck Mr. Allen and the third missed, police said. None of the passengers was injured in the incident, which police said apparently stemmed from an argument over a woman.
"I'm amazed the bus driver didn't get shot," said Miss Mack, who lives in West Baltimore and was riding home when the shots rang out. "This was my first and last time riding the bus. I will never ride it again. From now on, I'm driving my car."
Miss Mack's mother, interviewed along with her daughter but who asked that her name be withheld, said, "Society is going down the tubes. You can't even get on a bus anymore without being shot at. We might as well be living in the days of Wyatt Earp, because everyone's toting a gun these days."
Moments after the shooting, the three assailants fled amid the screams of passengers aboard the bus, police said. Paramedics and police arrived to treat the victim. He was taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was in fair condition last night.
As Mr. Allen was being taken off the bus on a stretcher, he pointed out to police three males on the corner.
The three were arrested after a brief foot chase by police. Police said they have been tentatively identified as Shawn Eubanks, 21, of the 500 block of N. Longwood St., and Richard Damon, 24, of the 3100 block of Normandy Woods Drive in Ellicott City. The third suspect is a juvenile, police said.
The incident took place on the No. 20 bus, which runs from the University of Maryland Transit Center across from the Baltimore Arena to Security Boulevard and Rolling Road. The bus was going west on Edmondson Avenue.
The last time a shooting took place on an MTA bus was Nov. 26, when a 35-year-old man was wounded during an argument with another passenger.
A bus driver was shot by a passenger in October.
"Something like this seldom happens," said MTA Police Chief Bernard B. Foster Sr. "There are 325,000 people per day riding on MTA buses and trains, and even assaults are uncommon. I think it's telling that the young man saw a bus as a sanctuary."
Tonja Thompson, 33, who works at a certified public accountant's office near the shooting scene and who saw two of the attackers fleeing down the street, said she couldn't believe the brazenness of the crime.
"It's the first time I've ever heard of anyone getting shot on a bus," said Ms. Thompson. "It's scary. I used to ride the bus, but I don't anymore. You never know what might happen on them these days."