SEATTLE — A gunman barged onto a bus and shot the driver during rush hour in busy downtown Seattle on Monday, sparking a foot chase that ended when he ran onto another bus carrying about 15 people and was cut down when officers fired through the windows, authorities said.
The officers had to make a “life-and-death” decision about whether to shoot the suspect on the second bus, Seattle Assistant Police Chief Paul McDonagh said.
“I believe they made the right choice,” he said.
The wounded driver was in satisfactory condition at Harborview Medical Center, hospital spokeswoman Leila Gray said. Police said the suspect died at the hospital. Their names were not immediately released.
Two officers and several passengers on the second bus suffered minor injuries. Bullet holes in the windows suggested they might have been hit by flying glass. None had been shot.
The shooting began after three people boarded a King County Metro bus through the rear door as morning rush hour was ending. The driver asked them to come up front to pay, acting Seattle Police Chief Jim Pugel said.
Two of the people re-entered the bus through the front door and paid. The gunman, however, paced back and forth before hitting and then shooting the driver in the torso and cheek, Pugel said.
Two off-duty officers heard the disturbance. One gave the driver first aid while the other chased the suspect. Other officers joined the pursuit, and the suspect aimed his gun at them and tried to enter two vehicles before climbing aboard a parked bus, where he was shot, police said.
Pugel praised both officers and citizens for helping end the incident less than 10 minutes after it began.
“Officers were on the scene, they moved quickly, and they did their job,” Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said.
King County Executive Dow Constantine said he met with the injured bus driver shortly after the shooting and is confident he will be OK. The driver’s first question was about the status of his customers.
“He wasn’t merely awake and alert. He was in good spirits and joking,” said Constantine, who promised to release the driver’s name after his wife contacted their relatives.
The regional bus service, which carries about 400,000 people a day, falls under Constantine’s responsibility. He said the shooting was an isolated incident that could have happened anywhere, and he commended both drivers for following procedures and keeping their passengers safe.
Susan McGuire works near the scene and said she saw the officer shoot the suspect, who was given CPR and taken to an ambulance.
“It’s sad because I feel sorry for the people on the bus,” she said.
Longshoreman Kevin Frazier was picketing and said he saw a man running with a hand in his pocket followed by police.
Streets surrounding the shooting scenes were blocked during the investigation.
“This is a rare situation on a metro bus,” McDonagh said.
On Nov. 27, 1998, a bus driver was killed when he was shot while driving across the city’s Aurora Bridge. Mark F. McLaughlin, 44, died after the bus smashed through a railing, bounced off an apartment building and crashed into the ground about 50 feet below.
McLaughlin was shot by passenger Silas Cool, 43, who authorities said committed suicide. The 33 other passengers were hurt, with one dying the next day.