One person was arrested on Wednesday under the Mental Health Act after a man pointed what originally appeared to be a gun at an ETS driver.
According to police, the incident happened around 5:30 p.m. at the Westmount Transit Centre at 111 Avenue and 135 Street.
The man reportedly approached the driver and reached around the plastic partition with what appeared to be a gun and pointed it at the driver.
A struggle ensued, and a passenger tried to intervene, according to police.
The bus, still in drive, crashed into the side of the transit building.
The driver was eventually able to take the weapon from the suspect, police say. It was later confirmed to be a loaded flare gun that had been spray painted black.
Police arrived on 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, says there would have been a contract security worker at the transit centre, but that person wouldn’t have had authority to step in.
“Those people have no capacity to impose security. They’re observe and report only. So it really makes us feel like there’s not a lot of value in having them there,” he told CTV News Edmonton.
“There’s quite a bit of budget expended on having those contract security guards. Anything they do report will be long finished long before any real security people or police get there.”
Bradshaw says there are currently about 80 to 90 transit peace officers employed in Edmonton. He’d like to see the money spent on contract security used to hire more peace officers.
“These are our employees, these are people that need our protection, and if we’re not putting the right ratio of security on the system, then we’re not doing our job,” he said.
Bradshaw added that the driver is shaken up, but not physically harmed.
No injuries were reported as a result of the incident.
“Our compliments to the operator, our member, who handled it well. We think it might have ended very differently had things gone wrong.”
Edmonton Transit Service released the following statement about the incident:
“We have zero tolerance for harassment or any forms of violence on transit. Our thoughts are with anyone who has been impacted by this incident, including riders and the operator. After the incident, peer support was offered to the operator of the bus and additional support will continue to be available to the operator. We are grateful for the EPS’ response and are also reviewing the incident internally to see if any improvements can be made.”
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s David Ewasuk.
Source: CTV News