Shooting victim seeks refuge on bus MTA and drivers step up precautions

January 27, 1994|By Gregory P. Kane and Karen Ludwig | Gregory P. Kane and Karen Ludwig,Staff Writers

A 31-year-old man collapsed on an MTA bus Tuesday, moments after he was shot at a transit stop -- the second time this month that a shooting victim has taken refuge on a bus. Don Thomas, who lives on East 31st Street, was in serious condition at Johns Hopkins Hospital after suffering wounds to his left buttock, left arm and the back of his neck.

Amid the violent incidents of recent months -- including the October shooting of a bus driver -- the MTA and the union that represents its drivers are taking action.

The MTA is giving its drivers additional training to handle TC emergencies and is hiring more transit police. Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1300 offered rewards yesterday for information about the October shooting and the January murder of a driver who was on his way to work.

The shooting of Mr. Thomas was the latest violent incident to touch the MTA. Shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday, he tried to board a southbound No. 19 bus at Harford and Hillen roads after being shot. Whether he had been waiting for the bus or sought refuge after being shot is not clear.

"The operator of the bus opened the door and the gentleman fell onto the steps," said MTA spokeswoman Dianna Rosborough.

The driver immediately noticed Mr. Thomas had been shot, "because he never really made it onto the bus," she said.

After stopping the bus in the 2800 block of Harford Road, the driver called MTA dispatchers, who then summoned police and paramedics. Mr. Thomas is expected to survive his wounds.

About 26 people were on the bus at the time of the incident, police said. No one saw who shot Mr. Thomas or could give any other details to police, a department spokeswoman said.

Nearly three weeks earlier, 18-year-old Damon Zarnel Allen was chased onto a crowded bus at Edmondson Avenue and Poplar Grove Street in West Baltimore by two men and a teen-ager. He was beaten with a baseball bat and shot once in each thigh. His attackers were arrested at the scene.

The last person to be shot on an MTA bus was Jerry Everett Anderson, on Nov. 26, 1993. Mr. Anderson, of Northeast Baltimore, was southbound on a No. 8 bus when he was shot in the lower back and left buttock after arguing with another passenger, police said. His assailant fled the bus at the corner of Greenmount Avenue and 22nd Street.

Violence also has affected bus drivers. Last year, there were 36 assaults on drivers, including incidents in which drivers were struck or spat upon, the MTA said. The most serious was the October shooting of bus driver Michele Holley, who was wounded in the leg after she pulled up to a bus stop on Garrison Boulevard.

The transit union local announced yesterday that it is offering rewards for information leading to the conviction of those involved in the shootings of two MTA employees.

According to local President Charles Pettus, a $500 reward is being offered for information leading to the conviction of the killer of bus driver Norman C. Williams, 28. He was shot Jan. 11 outside his home in the 2000 block of E. Lafayette Ave. as he left for work.

A $300 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of the person involved in the shooting of Ms. Holley.

Anyone with information about either case may contact the MTA police at (410) 333-3550.

Shortly after the shooting of Ms. Holley, the MTA created a task force to develop ways to increase employee safety, Ms. Rosborough said.

"Some of the recommendations of the task force have already been implemented," she said. Notices on fare boxes instruct drivers how to act in emergencies, and signs in MTA buses and trains prohibit dangerous behavior.

The MTA is hiring more plain-clothes police officers to ride its buses, Ms. Rosborough said. The agency also plans to offer drivers a training video on handling emergencies, and to work with school officials to control unruliness and vandalism among students who ride MTA buses.

"The MTA is concerned about its operators and is glad about the reward being offered by ATU 1300," Ms. Rosborough said. "The MTA police will be following up on any information about the shootings."

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