A 17-year-old has been arrested in Wednesday’s stabbing of a Metro bus driver in Woodland Hills, police announced at a news conference Thursday afternoon.
His name is not being released given his status as a juvenile, however, police continue to share a surveillance photo of him from inside the bus.
The stabbing occurred around 5:15 p.m. at Erwin Street and Topanga Canyon Boulevard after a verbal argument over “fare evasion,” investigators said. The suspect and the 61-year-old driver both got off the bus, and that is when the teen allegedly stabbed the driver repeatedly in the chest, neck, and back, and then ran away.
The bus driver was rushed to Northridge Hospital in critical condition and remained in the intensive care unit Thursday.
“The nature of the injuries that he sustained were definitely beyond life-threatening, and certainly in many other instances, he would not have survived,” Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said in praising the work of first responders and hospital staff who worked quickly to save the driver’s life.
Using surveillance footage from the bus and surrounding areas, Moore said law enforcement worked feverishly through the night in an “organized search pattern” to locate the suspect.
It was not immediately clear where he was found.
Earlier in the day, the Metro Board announced a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
“I just moved into the area hoping to get away from some of the violence, more in the Hollywood area, so it’s just really unfortunate and scary that these things are happening,” said Rayo Cole, a local Metro rider. “Especially in a neighborhood that is supposed to be pretty safe.”
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and several members of the board visited the bus driver in the hospital and spoke with the driver’s family.
“He’s still not out of the woods yet,” Bass said.
Wednesday’s stabbing was the latest violent incident to occur within the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority system. Other recent attacks include the assault of a 53-year-old woman on Metro’s A Line last week, and the fatal stabbing of a 25-year-old man last month, also on the A Line.
At Thursday’s news briefing, L.A. Deputy Mayor Brian Williams acknowledged concerns about the safety of Metro passengers and staff.
“Our bus and rail system is the lifeblood of this community,” Williams said. “We’re doing everything we can to make sure this system is safe.”