CHARLOTTE — Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are searching for a suspect accused of fatally shooting a Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) bus driver during a downtown road rage incident.
Officers responded to a shooting around 9.30pm Friday on West Trade Street near South Graham Street.
Upon arriving at the scene, officers found a CATS bus that had left the road and, inside, a bus driver who had been shot. The driver, later identified as Ethan Rivera, 41, was taken to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries. Officials said he died on Saturday.
Police said there were four other passengers on the bus who were not injured.
At a press conference on Tuesday, police released photos of the suspect’s vehicle. They said they were looking for a black 2003-2005 Honda Pilot with running boards. Investigators said the SUV model’s reverse lights are large squares on the side of the license plate.
“This animal needs to be taken off the streets,” Ethan’s mother, Sylvia Rivera, said. “If this happens to my son, your child could be next because that person didn’t care who Ethan was or who he left behind.”
According to officers, Rivera was actively driving his bus when another driver shot him. Police said they are investigating the shooting as a road rage incident.
“No information too small. Any information will help solve this tragic crime,” said Captain Joel McNelly of the CMPD.
No arrests have been made at this stage.
“He had a wonderful heart and a wonderful smile, and they took all that away from his children. His kids are going to be raised, and even though he loved them and moved here for them, they don’t have a father,” Sylvia Rivera said.
Transit leaders discuss fatal shooting
CATS Executive Director John Lewis spoke with Charlotte City Council on Monday to update council members on what CATS is doing to help with the investigation.
“This drama will be felt throughout the department for a long time to come, and we are working with the CMPD on the investigation. And our deepest condolences go out to Ethan’s family and friends,” Lewis said.
He said CATS gave law enforcement all audio and video recordings from the bus, in an effort to help with the investigation.
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“A lot of operators are scared,” said Alvy Hughes, vice president of the Bus Drivers Union. “They are worried and it shouldn’t be like this. Not when you’re trying to do your job and earn a living.
Hughes said the union wants to know more about what the operators want.
“I actually sat down with some riders myself today to better understand the concerns they have,” Hughes said. “So yes, we understand.”
The union would like to see more officers on the buses.
“More security. Maybe at the transit center and maybe on the roads,” Hughes said. “We have actually talked about it in the past.”
Hughes is aware that law enforcement personnel have dwindled.
Journalist Glenn Counts spoke to other bus drivers on Saturday who said they were stunned by the incident.
“His classmates that he was in class and training with, they’re really upset about this. We’re all upset,” one driver said.
“He was a good co-worker. I think he’s been in Charlotte less than two years, but every time you saw him he was always smiling. Always smiling,” another driver said.
The organization, Mothers of Murdered Offspring, said it plans to hold a candlelight service Thursday at 7 p.m. at Camp Greene Park.
(WATCH BELOW: CATS bus driver dies a day after being shot in city center, police say)
“Valued member of the Charlotte community”
On Sunday, CATS released a statement calling Rivera’s death a senseless act of violence. Rivera had worked with CATS for just over two years and was a father.
“Ethan was a public servant and a valued member of the Charlotte community. We mourn with his family during this time,” CATS said.
“We worry every day. We worry and pray to get home the same way we did to work,” one driver said.
A viewer told Channel 9 on Friday they were in their kitchen when they heard what sounded like very loud fireworks.
“It rang off the buildings in that area, and for a second I thought it was fireworks, like someone was making a joke, but immediately after the sound I heard a car accident., and it was the bus coming off the road,” said viewer Connor Parsons.
Other bus drivers told Counts it would be a huge relief for them if the police could make an arrest.
Anyone with information about this case is asked to call 704-432-TIPS and speak directly to a Homicide Detective.
No further details have been disclosed at this stage.
(WATCH BELOW: One person injured in shooting involving officer in Mount Holly, authorities say)
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