WASHINGTON - A man taking out the trash at a Northeast D.C. gas station was struck and killed by a Metrobus that had been hijacked by a man during its route. The incident began around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday when the suspect entered the bus as it stopped on the 3800 block of Jay Street.
Police said the suspect, identified as 30-year-old Keith James Loving of Northeast D.C., remained unseated and stood at the front of the bus near the driver. At the next stop, which was on Kenilworth Avenue, the man attacked the driver with an unknown weapon. D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said the passengers and the driver were able to flee the vehicle.
In less than three minutes, the suspect then took control of the bus. He drove it to the intersection of Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue and Minnesota Avenue where he ran over several curbs and then struck 40-year-old Anthony Payne near a dumpster at a Crown gas station.
In the commotion and with several crews called to respond, dispatch provided several different nearby addresses for the scene. The victim lied on the ground for several minutes before crews could assist him as police with guns drawn tried to get the armed suspect out of the bus. Payne was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.
People in the neighborhood said Payne would help out by taking trash out for local businesses. Horace Johnson heard the crash from his auto repair shop next door and then saw police take the suspect into custody.
"He was sitting in the driver's seat and the police told him to put his hands up, and he wouldn't put his hands up, so they surrounded the bus and told him put his hands up," said Johnson. "And after a while, they go inside and drive him out of the bus and then he was resisting, so they handcuffed him on the ground."
Lanier called the incident bizarre and said that the theft of a bus is extremely unusual. She also explained, "The suspect appeared to be very distraught and violent. He was violent and resisting the officers when they took him off the bus."
Police said Loving has been charged with second-degree murder. Police would not speculate whether he was intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
Police and Metro Transit Police were alerted to the danger after the driver pushed the emergency button to indicate that he was in trouble. The bus driver was taken to the hospital after the incident.
Metro spokesperson Dan Stessel told FOX 5 Metro began mandatory use of shields on its buses last year. Currently, 362 of its 1,542 Metrobuses are equipped with shields. Another 169 buses will have shields installed by the end of the year.
Metro said there have been 16 bus driver assault incidents so far this year, down 30 percent at the same time last year. There were 85 assaults on bus drivers last year.
Statement from ATU Local 689 on Tuesday's bus hijacking incident:
This morning, according to multiple news outlets, a pedestrian was struck and killed by a Metrobus that was driven by a hijacker. The hijacker also assaulted the Metrobus operator, who is currently hospitalized, to take control of the bus.
All workers have a right to be safe at work, and all riders have a right to feel safe when they board a train or bus. In 2014, more than 170 Metrobus operators reported being assaulted by a rider while on the job. In 2015, that number exponentially grew and included a horrifying incident where a station manager at Stadium-Armory Metro Station was stabbed, and another incident where a bus operator was caught in gun crossfire outside his bus in Southeast D.C. But those two incidents are two of a list that is far too long.
Last month, Local 689 launched the #TransitLivesMatter campaign to engage with the public on the multiple safety issues and concerns that we, the front-line employees of Metro, deal with daily. The list of incidents of Metro workers being spat on, slapped, stabbed, tased or shot at continues to grow longer every week, and it will only grow longer in the warm weather if Metro continues to ineffectively address this issue.
This union, representing more than 9,000 of the operators, station managers, clerks and mechanics of Metro, is calling upon Metro to take action and immediately increase police presence. The lives of transit employees and our riders are depending on it.
Local 689 is committed to standing with the community and WMATA management to make sure that any avoidable assaults never happen again, and it is the hope of this union that the leaders at Metro will stand with us.