CLEVELAND -- RTA has released surveillance video of the armed robbery of a bus driver, in the hope that the suspect can be identified.
The hold-up happened just before 4:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 26, when the veteran driver stopped to pick up a man at East 82nd and St. Clair.
The video shows the man pulling out a gun, and putting it to the driver’s head. Passengers looked on in stunned silence, as the suspect threatened to kill the driver and demanded her purse.
The 57-year-old driver is heard on the video telling the robber that she has to stop the bus so that she can comply with his demands.
After handing over her valuables, the driver pleads with the man not to shoot her. At one point, he accuses her of hitting a panic alarm, and puts the gun back to her head. The driver is heard crying, and begging for her life.
Fortunately she was unharmed, and eventually dropped the man off at East 60th and St. Clair, where he was last seen running into a neighborhood south of St. Clair.
Transit Union officials say the driver is so traumatized by what happened, that she has now taken a leave of absence. Union President William Nix told FOX 8, "She's real shaken up. She's very much shaken up and she's trying to cope with it the best she can."
The robbery has the union demanding that RTA add more transit police officers and increase patrols along bus routes. Nix says his members have not felt safe since 2012, when a passenger grabbed and spit on RTA driver Artis Hughes, who then punched the woman and threw her off the bus. It cost Hughes his job. "This is something that is going on-- the assaults on our operators-- ever since Art Hughes, it's opened up a can of worms, but this is a blatant attack by robbing our member," said Nix. "That's a mother; that's a sister; that's a wife; and that's a daughter. I mean, whoever did this, they should be ashamed of themselves."
Anyone who can help identify the robbery suspect is asked to call RTA police or Cleveland police.