The president of the union representing bus drivers is calling for 24-hour security at transit centres after a bus driver was stabbed 13 times early Wednesday morning, the second attack in about one week.
And Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said “there’s more work to do” on security measures at transit and LRT stations.
The bus driver who was stabbed multiple times early Wednesday at the Mill Woods Transit Centre was released from hospital, the city said Wednesday night.
The 65-year-old driver was at the transit hub on Hewes Way in southeast Edmonton when the attack happened at around 3:40 a.m., police said.
Paramedics treated him at the scene before taking him to hospital suffering serious, but non-life threatening injuries. A 15-year-old boy is in police custody.
In a statement, a city spokesman said they had reached out to the driver to offer ongoing support.
‘Stabbed 13 times’
Mark Tetterington, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569 which represents bus drivers, feels transit peace officers need to be present at transit centres overnight.
“I think the only solution is to have that presence at all those transit centres 24 hours … you have to have that presence, we have to make the buses a safe place not only for our operators but also for the public.”
“They want to increase ridership, that’s where you start.”
Tetterington said he had been told by the transit branch manager that the driver was stabbed around a dozen times by a youth who asked him for a ride downtown.
Tetterington said the youth approached the driver and asked if he could get a ride in that direction because the bus was out of service and returning to the garage.
The driver phoned control to let them know the youth was stranded and needed a ride. He was told a peace officer would be sent out to drive the youth downtown.
“He was stabbed 13 times,” he said. “By the grace of God, he’s still alive. I got an update on his condition from the branch manager, and he said that he’s going to be released amazingly in a couple hours. They’re all just stitches. They never hit any vital organs or veins or arteries, which was a miracle.”
Tetterington said the bus driver was able to escape to the terminal long enough to call police.
Tetterington said retractable driver shields are being installed on some buses as a pilot project. However, a shield doesn’t protect drivers while they’re in transit stations, he said.
‘Hits close to home’
Iveson reacted to the stabbing Wednesday saying it “hits close to home” for all Edmontonians, and that the city is taking concerns from the public about safety on the transit system “very, very seriously.”
“I continue to use transit because it’s an important part of my commute and I feel safe generally on the system,” said Iveson. “So that’s been my experience, but I do recognize and understand that some people do not feel safe and that for women, in particular, their transit safety concerns particularly in the evening and quieter times on the system.
“I’ve chatted with a couple of the councillors already, heard from the transit union and there’s clearly more work for us to do.”
Last week, a 19-year-old man was stabbed multiple times in the chest in an unprovoked attack on Sept. 18 at the South Campus LRT station platform.
Iveson said there are a lot of deterrents to crime on the city’s transit system, including security cameras, the presence of other people, operators and transit peace officers.
“With two high-profile incidents close together, questions have been raised about safety on the system,” said Iveson. “And that’s why we’ve added police and additional transit peace officers in recent years in order to try to have more patrols on the system, added more cameras as well. And those cameras at the end of the day will help hold accountable people who behave inappropriately on transit. So I’m hopeful that the cameras will be able to help with the investigation, whatever happened here.”
Bus drivers regularly face violence on the job
According to freedom of information data requested by Postmedia last year, which covered Jan. 1, 2014 to July 6, 2017, there was an average of one attack on a transit operator per week in Edmonton. Across Canada, there are 2,000 bus driver assaults every year according to the Canadian Urban Transit Association, and more that go unreported.
Around one-third of the Edmonton incidents involved a driver who was punched or kicked. Cases where an operator was bitten or spit on made up another 30 per cent. Pushing or shoving incidents were the next largest category, followed by thrown objects — including coffee, liquor, garbage and, in one case, a “small block of cheese” chucked at an operator’s face by a man who was refused a free ride. Four instances were classified as sexual harassment.
Of the 193 attacks since 2014, 33 resulted in an arrest and six led to criminal charges. The No. 8 bus, which runs from Abbotsfield Mall to Mill Woods, was the most dangerous route, with 27 incidents.
It’s been a few months since the U.S. Supreme Court’s treacherous Janus decision and ATU public sector Locals in non-right-to-work states have been mobilizing to get 100% of their members signed up and recommitted as ATU members. We are happy to report more and more Locals have been successful. To date, Locals 192-Oakland, CA, 265-San Jose, CA, 285-Steubenville, OH, 726-Staten Island, NY, 752-Bloomington, IL, 824-New Brunswick, NJ, 842-Wilmington, DE, 880-Camden, NJ, 883-Everett, WA, 1027-Fresno, CA, 1070-Indianapolis, IN, 1241-Lancaster, PA, 1249-Springfield, IL, 1336-Bridgeport, CT, 1499-Muncie, IN, 1574-San Mateo, CA, and 1704-San Bernardino, CA have 100% of their members committed to ATU! Get involved, and get your Local 100% committed, too.
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Another day, another attack on a bus driver
This weekend we celebrate Labor/Labour Day in the United States and Canada with family and friends. ATU can be proud as our members are mobilizing from Birmingham, AL, to Saskatoon, SK, to Milwaukee, WI, to Halifax, NS and countless other communities. We have created a video to show our members working to demand more transit funding, to fight privatization efforts, to push for safer bus driver workstations and more. This Labor/Labour Day remember “We are a Proud Union Family”! Watch video.
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Guatemala’s opposition is accusing the head of the country’s emergency response agency of failing to heed warnings ahead of the eruption of a volcano that has left nearly 100 dead and almost 200 others missing.
The finger-pointing came as rain showers and the fear of mudslides hindered the search for possible survivors and the recovery of the dead from Sunday’s eruption of Fuego (Spanish for fire). It is one of Central America’s most active volcanoes.
The volcano blanketed nearby villages in ash and sent fast-moving toxic pyroclastic flows down into valleys as people living nearby rushed to escape the onslaught.
“You have a great responsibility over what happened,” Congressman Mario Taracena, speaking in the Guatemalan Congress, said of Sergio Cabañas, the executive secretary of the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction, also known as CONRED.
“Anyone with a little common sense would have done something,” Taracena said, according to El Periódico. “They did not care and they did not take precautions.”
The director of the National Institute of Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology, Eddy Sánchez, also came in for criticism.
BREAKING UPDATE: The man arrested in connection with a deadly van attack in North York on Monday afternoon has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder.
He has been remanded into custody and is set to return to court on May 10.
The suspect, identified by police as 25-year-old Richmond Hill resident Alek Minassian, was arrested after a van plowed into pedestrians along a busy stretch of Yonge Street, killing 10 and injuring 15 others.
Sources told CTV News Monday that Minassian was not known to police prior to the incident and a Linkedin profile under his name states he graduated from Seneca College earlier this year.
On Monday afternoon, several witnesses reported seeing a white Ryder rental van driving along the sidewalk in the area of Yonge Street and Finch Avenue, striking pedestrians in its path.
Early images of the scene showed pools of blood on the sidewalk and multiple people wounded on the ground.
A driver who said he was behind the van as the incident was unfolding said he eventually started honking to warn pedestrians.
“At the beginning I thought I want to make him stop because I’m literally about 20, 30 metres behind him but he is not stopping and he is driving faster on the sidewalks and I am on the road,” he told CP24.
He said he then decided to continue to follow the vehicle and honk to warn people on the street about the danger.
Witness videos sent to CP24 show a dramatic takedown of the suspect on the sidewalk on Poyntz Avenue.
The videos show a man exiting a badly damaged white rental van as an officer points a firearm at the suspect.
A source confirmed to CP24’s crime specialist Steve Ryan that prior to the arrest, the man asked police officers to shoot him.
He was eventually brought to the ground and taken into custody.
Police have said that they believe the incident appears to be “deliberate.”
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders told reporters Monday night that police are exploring “all lanes” in their investigation and are trying to determine exactly what the van driver’s motivation was in the deadly attack.
One victim identified
One of the ten victims of the fatal attack has been identified as Invesco employee Anne Marie D’Amico, a source confirmed to CP24.
Police have not released the ages or genders of the other nine victims.
Flowers and messages of condolence could be seen at a growing memorial that has been set up in Olive Square, near Yonge Street and Finch Avenue, in honour of those impacted by the tragedy.
A GoFundMe page has also been set up for the victims.
The section of Yonge Street where the pedestrians were hit remains closed today as police continue their investigation.
Transit has also been impacted due to closures in the area.
Due to the police investigation, the Toronto District School Board said the TDSB Education Centre, located near Yonge Street and Sheppard Aveneue, will be closed Tuesday.
‘We will not be broken,’ Tory says
Tuesday’s Toronto city council meeting was postponed until Wednesday, but Mayor John Tory asked councillors to meet at city hall today to express their condolences.
Speaking in council chambers Tuesday, Tory called the situation an “unfathomable loss of life has left our city in mourning.”
“Our hearts are with all of those affected,” he said.
The mayor went on to thank hospital staff as well as first responders and citizens at the scene who exhibited “great bravery” during the ordeal.
“We know that we are strong and resilient and will not be thrown off course by one person or one act,” Tory said.
“The people who call this city home are shaken… but we will not be broken.”
Coun. John Filion, whose ward encompasses the area where the attack took place, recognized the “tremendous emotional toll” the incident has taken on those in the area who rushed in to help in any way they could.
“Hopefully this will have all of us be a little kinder to each other on regular days,” he told his fellow councillors at city hall Tuesday.
Speaking at Parliament Hill on Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the incident “horrific” and “senseless.”
“On behalf of all Canadians, I offer my deepest, heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of all those who were killed and we wish a full recovery to those injured and stand with the families and friends of the victims,” Trudeau said.
The prime minister added that there is nothing to suggest that there is a national security element to the situation.
Police said another update on the case will be provided this afternoon but a time and location has not yet been determined.
Courtesy of CTV and CP 24 and GMA