Man arrested after pointing flare at ETS bus driver

A person was arrested under the Mental Health Act on Wednesday after a man pointed what originally appeared to be a gun at an ETS driver.

Police say the incident happened around 5:30 p.m. at the Westmount Transportation Center at 111 Avenue and 135 Street.

The man allegedly approached the driver and reached around the plastic bulkhead with what appeared to be a gun and pointed it at the driver.

A fight ensued, and a passenger tried to intervene, police said.

The bus, still running, slammed into the side of the transit building.

The driver was eventually able to take the suspect’s weapon, police said. It was later confirmed to be a loaded flare gun that had been spray painted black.

Police arrived at the scene and the suspect was taken into custody without incident.

Because the man was arrested under the Mental Health Act, police are not releasing his name.

The Amalgamated Transit Union says the situation is another example of why more transit peace officers are needed.

Steve Bradshaw, president of ATU Local 569, which represents the driver, said there would have been a contracted security guard at the transit center, but that person would not have had the authority to to intervene.

“These people do not have the capacity to impose security. They only observe and report. So it really makes us feel like there’s not a lot of value in having them there,” he told CTV News Edmonton.

“There is quite a bit of budget spent on having these contract security guards. Anything they report will be finished long before any real security or police officers arrive on the scene.

Bradshaw says there are currently about 80 to 90 transit peace officers employed in Edmonton. He would like the money spent on contract security to be used to hire more peace officers.

« These are our employees, they are people who need our protection, and if we don’t put the right safety ratio on the system, then we’re not doing our job, » he said.

Bradshaw said the driver was shaken up, but not physically injured.

No injuries were reported as a result of the incident.

“Our compliments to the operator, our member, who did well. We think it could have ended very differently had things gone wrong.

Edmonton Transit issued the following statement regarding the incident:

“We have zero tolerance for harassment or any form of violence on public transport. Our hearts go out to everyone affected by this incident, including the passengers and the operator. After the incident, peer support was offered to the bus operator and additional support will continue to be available to the operator. We are grateful for the response from EPS and are also reviewing the incident internally to see if any improvements can be made.

With files from David Ewasuk of CTV News Edmonton.


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