Police think they have a suspect in assault on bus driver

Kansas City police believe they have identified a man who punched a city bus driver in the face late last month after the driver refused to give him a transfer ticket worth $1.

Police were looking for the suspect, who was identified through tips and an area canvass by patrol officers.

The assault occurred about 5 p.m. Oct. 26 after the man boarded a bus at Armour Boulevard and Main Street behind a rider who paid $1.50. Cash riders get a transfer ticket so they can board other buses to get to their final destination, but the first rider didn’t need his ticket.

The man, who used a monthly pass for his fare, asked for the other rider’s transfer ticket. Police said people often sell the tickets on the street for $1. The driver ignored the man’s request.

As the man exited the bus at 39th and Main streets, he complained that the driver could have given him the transfer ticket. The driver responded that the man wasn’t entitled to it. The man exited but kept yelling and got back on the bus twice — the second time hitting the 59-year-old driver in the mouth. The bus’ surveillance camera recorded the assault.

The man boarded another bus at 39th and Baltimore Avenue and rode to Charlotte Street, where it appeared he walked into an apartment building.

Since the man used a monthly pass, detectives knew he was a regular rider, so they sent patrol officers to areas along the route to see if anyone recognized him. The patrol officers learned the man’s name.

Detective Jeffrey Littlejohn said he wanted to thank the public for tips provided after police released video surveillance of the assault.

The attack marked the second time within a month that a passenger hit an Area Transportation Authority driver in the face. The first case, a sucker punch, occurred Oct. 1 at 39th Street and Indiana Avenue and knocked the 54-year-old driver unconscious. Prosecutors charged an 18-year-old suspect with a felony.