Dramatic video shows a bus driver and a passenger opening fire on each other on a moving bus in Charlotte, North Carolina, this month after an argument that left both men seriously injured, transit authorities said.
The shootout, which happened May 18 while others were on the bus, began when a passenger authorities identified as Omarri Tobias got up while the vehicle was moving and asked the driver to let him off between stops, Charlotte Area Transit System officials said.
The driver, David Fullard, told Tobias he would have to wait until the next designated stop, and an "argument ensued," Brent Cagle, the transit system's interim CEO, said at a news conference.
In video of the altercation the agency released last week, the bus driver and the passenger appear to have an exchange before Tobias pulls out a gun and Fullard takes out a firearm right after.
Bullets shatter a barrier between the driver and the passenger. It was not immediately clear from the video who fired first. The transit agency did not immediately respond to an overnight request for comment.
Tobias and Fullard sustained life-threatening injuries but were stable and expected to make full recoveries, Cagle said.
Tobias faces several charges, including assault with a deadly weapon, he said.
It was not immediately clear whether Fullard would face any charges.
RATP Dev, the third-party operator of the city’s buses, said it had "parted ways" with Fullard after he violated employee policy by carrying a firearm on the job, NBC affiliate WCNC of Charlotte reported. RATP Dev did not immediately respond to an overnight request for comment.
Cagle said an investigation found Fullard did not use any of a number of alarm systems available to bus drivers, WCNC reported. He also said that it was standard procedure not to allow passengers off between bus stops but that drivers can make allowances if necessary.
Ken Harris, an attorney for Fullard, told WCNC the bus driver had worked with the transit system for nearly 20 years.
“Mr. Fullard is a long-term employee of the CATS bus system,” Harris said before RATP Dev announced that it had parted ways with Fullard. “He loves his job, and he wants to continue to be there, and we want to make sure we address any issues that could come up related to this incident.”
Harris also said incidents of bus drivers' being injured and assaulted while doing their jobs have been a persistent issue in Charlotte.
“You have these incidents that happen over and over again, where drivers are being assaulted, shot at, shot or killed,” Harris said last week. “It creates a situation where drivers fear that they won’t make it home."
In February 2022, an agency bus driver, Ethan Rivera, was shot in what authorities said was believed to be a road rage incident. He died from his injuries the next day, WCNC reported.
CORRECTION (May 29, 2023, 8 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated when the bus driver’s attorney said assaults on bus drivers were a persistent problem in Charlotte. He said it last week, not this week.