Passengers take axe and brass knuckles from man on Winnipeg transit bus

Winnipeg bus passengers disarm man with axe

WINNIPEG — An incident where police say passengers on a Winnipeg bus disarmed a man with an axe and brass knuckles has intensified calls for transit safety in the city.

There has been concern about safety on Winnipeg buses since last month’s fatal stabbing of a city bus driver.

Police say passengers on Friday night took the items away from the 22-year-old man without incident and that they and the driver then escorted the man off the bus.

He was arrested a short time later on the sidewalk.

John Callahan with the union that represents transit drivers says the incident shows there isn’t time to wait months for the results of a safety review ordered after driver Irvine Jubal Fraser was killed Feb. 14 when he tried to get a passenger off his bus.

Dave Wardrop, Winnipeg’s chief transportation officer, said earlier this week the department doesn’t have the staff to make a significant change at this point.

Callahan has been calling for fare inspection to be taken out of the hands of drivers, noting that two thirds of driver assaults are over unpaid fares.

“These types of incidents have been ongoing, but obviously now people are paying a lot more attention, including our operators,” said Callahan, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505.

“I say there’s things that we can do in the interim that can be addressed a lot more quickly.”

Const. Rob Carver, a police spokesman, said Friday’s incident never became violent. He said the man never brandished the axe, and while it appears he was wearing the brass knuckles, the passengers were still able to get them from him without a fight or a struggle.

The man faces two charges of possession of a weapon and two charges of breaching a recognizance.

“In one sense it was a fairly low key thing, these passengers see something that’s disturbing, they kind of step up and the bus drivers get this guy off the bus,” Carver said.

“The more concerning part is we had a tragedy involving a bus operator some weeks back, and certainly the focus has been on transit safety for the last little while.”

Fraser was at the end of his route at the University of Manitoba at around 2 a.m. and was trying to get a sleeping passenger to leave when he was killed.

A suspect, Brian Kyle Thomas, 22, has been charged with second-degree murder, possession of a weapon and breach of probation.

The report from the safety investigation prompted by Fraser’s death isn’t due for three months.

Wardrop said bureaucrats will try to have the report done as quickly as possible. Options such as shields for drivers are not being ruled out but would require more study, he said, while another idea is to move more supervisors onto evening shifts to help with disputes.

Callahan noted the city has added mobile inspectors at night but needs to add more of them. He has also said that dedicated transit police could mediate disputes.

He said drivers are sympathetic to riders who cannot afford to pay, but says some repeat offenders are abusing the system.

“We’re getting people who are not paying fares, drinking on the bus. It’s a party on wheels,” he said. “Right now, you can’t keep up with it. There’s no consequence.”

 

 

The Canadian Press

Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A pair of Okanagan Regional Library reference librarians have created a podcast called Hard Cover that takes a zany but informative look at books, libraries and librarians. (File photo)
Okanagan reference librarians produce quirky podcast

Davin Helkenberg and Peter Critchley are behind Hard Cover

A Shoppers Drug Mart employee in Vernon has tested positive for COVID-19, the company confirmed on Jan. 27, 2021. The last day the employee worked was Jan. 23. (K-J Millar - The Northern View)
COVID-19 case at Vernon Shoppers Drug Mart

Loblaws notes positive result on disclosure page

Okanagan Symphony Orchestra music director Rosemary Thomson in action at the podium. Photo by Lynda Miller.
Kelowna filmmaker gets funding to create new ‘Local Heroes’ documentary

The documentary will be focused on the director of the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra and Opera

Tom Ouchi is Respect Works Here’s Community Champion for January 2021. (Contributed)
Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded a structure fire on Valleyview Place Jan. 26, 2021, around 5 p.m. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star)
Vernon firefighters knock down fully involved basement blaze

All occupants of the home got out safely but have been displaced, their home extensively damaged

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

Vaseux Lake in winter. (Facebook)
Dogs rescued after falling through ice on Vaseux Lake

Good Samaritans saved the trapped dogs

Superstore
Three employees test positive for COVID-19 at Okanagan Superstore

Penticton 7 Eleven has reopened after closing for a week for COVID

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at B.C. legislature on the province’s mass vaccination plan for COVID-19, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 quarantine not an option for B.C., John Horgan says

Apres-ski parties increase risk, not interprovincial travel

A rendering of the proposed “Aqua” resort in Kelowna’s Lower Mission area. (Contributed)
Towering waterfront resort planned in Kelowna

Mission Group’s ‘Aqua’ resort has been in the works for more than a decade

“My grandma always just said…making people smile is the most important thing,” says Nicholas Kruger. (Chehala Leonard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Entrepreneur Nicholas Kruger nominated as Okanagan community changemaker

With humour and knowledge, Nicholas Kruger says it’s important to give back

Worker at Swartz Bay terminal on Monday, January 20, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Former BC Ferries employee alleges he was fired because of his race

Imraan Goondiwala has been granted a BC Human Rights Tribunal hearing

Colton Jacob Thorsen. (Facebook)
Accused Osoyoos shooter to be tried by judge

Colton Jacob Thorsen is charged with attempted murder stemming from an October 2020 incident

Geoff Orr began building his dream home in the hills above Penticton over 14 years ago. The architect used recycled lumber from the old Super-Vale grocery store. (Floating Orb Productions / YouTube)
WATCH: Penticton man shows off dream home made from recycled lumber

A lot of the lumber used was taken from the demolished Super-Valu grocery store

Most Read