CATS bus driver fired after shootout with passenger, officials say

CHARLOTTE — A CATS bus driver involved in a shootout with a passenger on May 18 was fired Wednesday morning, said CATS Interim CEO Brent Cagle.

The passenger, Omarri Shariff Tobias, wanted the bus driver to stop at a McDonald’s that day but the driver, David Fuller, refused.

A verbal altercation on Bus 1030 escalated on Route 56 near Charlotte Premium Outlets.

Tobias pulled out a gun so Fuller did the same, and they shot each other.

They were taken to a hospital both with life-threatening injuries. Their conditions improved since the shooting.

“I understand everyone’s need to protect themselves,” Cagle said. “I also believe that this incident may have been avoided.”

Two other adult passengers were on the bus, and they were not injured.

RATP Dev is the employer of all bus operators.

Tobias was in court Wednesday and his secured bond was increased from $100,000 to $250,000. He was banned from riding any CATS buses or light rails.

Training & safety

Bus operators have three ways they can respond during emergencies, which include a radio and two alarm systems.

Fuller didn’t use these protocols, CATS said.

“We want to acknowledge that this incident is a tragic expression of the gun violence in our community,” said Cagle in a news release. “We will not be able to solve this problem on our own. However, CATS is committed to doing what we can to address this with our partners at CMPD, and our partners at RATP Dev who employ and manage our bus operators.”

Bus operators are also trained in de-escalating situations and handling other matters to keep passengers safe.

“It’s important to remember that the majority of transit operators make good decisions and follow policies, do the right thing every day,” said Cagle in the release. “They don’t make headlines when they go out of their way to help a passenger struggling with a stroller or help a rider having a mental health emergency, but they are the rule and not the exception.”

Other safety measures that are supposed to be in place are armed and unarmed guards riding on random buses.

However, Cagle said staffing with Allied Universal has been a problem. Allied is being replaced by another company.

“So the new security contractor will cover areas like CTC, as well as onboard buses,” Cagle said.

Drivers said they rarely have security on routes.

Cagle was not aware of that issue as they transition to a new security company.

Since the murder of operator Ethan Rivera last year, drivers have asked for bullet-proof shields.

However, Cagle said the weight of the glass and the fact that buses would have to be retrofitted means that it wouldn’t be safe in a wreck.

“If that glass dislodges and becomes a flying object in the bus, it can very seriously hurt or kill passengers, or the operator, so we have to weigh the value of that versus the risk of it,” he said.

VIDEO: ‘I’m going to pop you’: Bond increased for passenger accused of shooting CATS bus driver