CATS bus driver killed in road rage shooting while driving in uptown Charlotte, police say

CHARLOTTE — Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are searching for a suspect accused of fatally shooting a Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) bus driver during a road rage incident in uptown.

Officers responded to a shooting at around 9:30 p.m. Friday on West Trade Street near South Graham Street.

Once police got to the scene, they found a CATS bus that had gone off 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 Saturday.

Police said there were four other passengers on the bus who were not hurt.

During a news conference Tuesday, police released photos of the suspect’s vehicle. They said they’re searching for a 2003-2005 black Honda Pilot with running boards. Investigators said the backup lights on the SUV model are large squares on the side of the license plate.

“This animal has to be taken off the street,” said Ethan’s mother, Sylvia Rivera. “If this happen to my son, your child could be next, because this person didn’t care who Ethan was, or who he was leaving behind.”

According to officers, Rivera was actively driving his bus when another driver shot him. Police said they’re investigating the shooting as a road rage incident.

“No information too small. Any piece of information will help to solve this tragic crime,” said CMPD Capt. Joel McNelly.

No arrests have been made at this point.

“He he had a tremendous heart and he had a tremendous smile, and they took all that away from his kids. His kids are going to be brought up, and as much as he loved them and moved down here for them, they don’t have a dad,” Sylvia Rivera said.

Transit leaders discuss deadly shooting

CATS Executive Director John Lewis spoke to Charlotte City Council Monday updated council members on what CATS is doing to help with the investigation.

“This tragedy will be felt throughout the department for a long time to come, and we are working with CMPD on the investigation. And our sincerest condolences go out to Ethan’s family and friends,” Lewis said.

He said CATS has given law enforcement all audio and video 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 that shouldn’t be that way. Not when you are trying to do your job and make a living.”

Hughes said the union wants to know more of what operators want.

“I’ve actually, myself, have been meeting with drivers today to get a better understanding of the concerns they are having,” Hughes said. “So yes, we do understand.”

The union would like to see more officers on buses.

“More security. Maybe at the Transit Center and maybe on routes,” Hughes said. “We actually talked about this in the past.”

Hughes is aware that manpower in law enforcement numbers have been down.

Reporter Glenn Counts spoke with other bus drivers Saturday who said they were stunned from the incident.

“His classmates that he was in class and training with, they are really upset by 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’s planning to hold a candlelight service on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Camp Greene Park.

(WATCH BELOW: CATS bus driver dies day after being shot in uptown, 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 valued member of the Charlotte community. We grieve with his family during this time,” CATS said.

“We worry every day. We worry and we pray that we make it home the same way we made it to work,” a driver said.

On Friday, a viewer told Channel 9 they were in their kitchen when they heard what sounded like a very loud firework.

“It echoed against buildings in this area, and for a second I thought it was a firework, like somebody playing a joke, but immediately after the sound, I heard a car crash, and it was the bus running off the road,” viewer Connor Parsons said.

Other bus drivers told Counts that it would be a huge relief to them if police are able to make an arrest.

Anyone with information on this case is asked to call 704-432-TIPS and speak directly to a homicide detective.

No other details have been released at this point.

(WATCH BELOW: Person hurt in officer-involved shooting in Mount Holly, authorities say)