Man charged after shooting on CATS bus leaves two injured

Both the bus driver and a passenger were injured.
Some drivers remain afraid for their safety after the most recent instance of violence against CATS operators.
Published: May. 18, 2023 at 12:42 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A shooting on a CATS bus on Thursday involved a bus driver and a passenger on the bus according to an internal email from CATS staff that WBTV obtained.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is investigating the shooting that happened near Steele Creek. According to police, the shooting happened at 11:15 a.m. on Thursday morning on Outlets Boulevard near Charlotte Premium Outlets.

The email states an employee got into a verbal altercation with a passenger, later identified as Omarri Shariff Tobias, and the incident escalated.

“The passenger pulled a firearm on the operator, and the operator also pulled out a firearm. Both individuals shot at each other. At this time, Medic is reporting both individuals were transported with life-threatening injuries,” according to the email.

Tobias is charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injuries, communicating threats, and carrying a concealed firearm.

Employees are not allowed to have weapons while working, according to CATS.

“CATS regrets this tragic accident. All employees’ and riders’ safety and well-being are a top priority and concern. CATS policy does not allow any employee to have a weapon,” according to the email.

This most recent incident where a CATS operator has been faced with violence comes 15 months after bus driver Ethan Rivera was shot and killed during an act of alleged road rage.

Now, drivers are once again speaking out, fearing for their safety.

“I’m just praying for him, the driver, you know, because we’re human,” one CATS driver said Monday. “That was hard for me. I’m still trying to process that. He was a nice guy.”

While the drivers said they understand their job includes dealing with the public, they also feel their employer should take care of them.

“We do understand that we are dealing with the general public, and there’s all types of levels of crazy, but we expect to be taken care of,” a second driver said. “We’re not supposed to have firearms on the bus, but a lot of drivers feel they need to take their safety into their own hands.”

RATP Dev USA, the company that manages CATS, released the following statement regarding the incident:

“RATP Dev USA is aware of the incident that occurred this morning on bus 1030 operating on route #56 at 5404 New Fashion Way near the Charlotte Premium Outlets. RATP Dev USA is actively working very closely with Charlotte PD and CATS on the investigation into the incident. Our number one concern is the health and well being of our Operator who was injured as well as the safety of all our employees and riders across Charlotte Mecklenburg County.”.

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