A city bus crashed near a school building in Queens, New York, on Thursday morning, October 27, after a man armed with a BB gun hijacked the vehicle and forced the operator to drive at gunpoint, police said.
According to preliminary information offered by the New York Police Department (NYPD), around 7:23 am on Thursday on 199th Street and Linden Boulevard in Queens, a 44-year-old man ran in front of the Q4 bus “with what appeared to be a firearm in his hand.”
The man boarded the bus and the driver immediately opened the doors to allow passengers to exit, police said. The suspect told the driver he was being chased and directed him to keep driving.
Once the passengers were out of the bus, the driver continued operating the vehicle at gunpoint until 7:36 am, when he jumped out of the driver’s side window in the vicinity of 232nd Street and Linden Boulevard.
The suspect moved into the driver’s seat and attempted to take control of the bus. The bus continued down Linden Boulevard before striking a utility pole and coming to a stop mid-block between 233rd and 234th Streets.
The alleged hijacker was apprehended by responding officers across the street when he tried to flee the bus. He and the driver were both treated for minor injuries.
The damaged bus can be seen in this press conference footage with the damaged utility pole leaning against it.
Police quoted Con Edison as saying any power outages were expected to be remedied in the coming hours. Police asked anyone who was on the bus or who might have more information to contact them. Credit: NYPD News via Storyful
- Officer of Patrol Borough Queens South. With me today is Deputy Chief Jerry O'Sullivan, the commanding officer of Detective Borough Queens South, and Frank Annicaro, the senior vice-president of the Department of Buses for the MTA. The information I am about to give you today is preliminary and subject to change, as the incident is only a few hours old.
This morning, at approximately 723 hours, in the vicinity of Linden Boulevard and 197th street, a 44-year-old male ran in front of an eastbound Q4 bus with what appeared to be a firearm in his hand. The male subsequently boarded the bus, at which time the bus driver immediately opened all the doors to allow all passengers to exit.
Once on the bus, the male made statements that he was being chased and directed the bus driver to continue driving. The bus driver continued. And at approximately 736 hours in the vicinity of 232nd street and Linden Boulevard, the bus driver jumped out of the driver's side bus window.
The subject then gained entry to the bus driving by passing a partition and attempted to take control of the bus. The bus then continued down Linden Boulevard. The bus struck a utility pole and came to a stop mid-block between 233rd Street and 234th Street. The subject then exited the bus and proceeded across the street, where he was apprehended by responding officers from the 113th precinct.
Both the bus driver and the subject were removed to area hospitals, where they received treatment for minor injuries. An imitation pistol was recovered on the bus. Chief O'Sullivan to my right will show a photo of that pistol.
The investigation is ongoing at this time, and the charges on the male are pending. If you were on the bus or have any additional information to help in this investigation, please call the 113th precinct detective squad or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS. All calls are strictly confidential. Now you will hear from Frank Annicaro, the senior vice-president of the Department of Buses for the MTA.
FRANK ANNICARO: Thank you, Chief [INAUDIBLE]. So, you know, at the MTA, we're very thankful to all the responding agencies. You know, we're very thankful that there were no serious injuries to passengers or our bus operator.
Our bus operator is a 21-year veteran. He is currently at the hospital with management and his union representative with minor injuries, and we're very thankful. I'll turn it back over to the chief. Thank you.
- Any questions?
- So how many blocks did he believe he was being held at gunpoint, approximately, are we talking about here?
JERRY O'SULLIVAN: I'll go.
- Why don't you step towards the mic? Thanks.
JERRY O'SULLIVAN: So based on reviewing video from the bus, it appears that the individual stopped the bus and, at some point, pulled out a firearm toward the bus driver. When that happened, the bus driver was traveling eastbound on Linden Boulevard. He stopped the bus, hit the brakes. We could see a gun on video, or what appeared to be a gun on video.
The driver opened the door. The individual had appeared to be erratic. He put the gun, or the simulated-- he put the gun inside of his waistband. And they allowed everybody from the bus to exit both the rear doors and the front doors. And that included the individual with the fake firearm.
And when we look at it, it appears to be that firearm was a BB gun. So to answer your question, the vehicle-- the bus continues to travel eastbound from 197 and Linden to 233rd and Linden Boulevard.
- The bus driver was off at that point?
JERRY O'SULLIVAN: No. So the bus driver remains on the bus. And the individual that got on the bus remained very close to the drive at all times. So on these buses, there's a partition which separates the passengers and the bus driver.
The individual got on the bus, sat directly behind the bus driver, and leaned up close to that partition the whole way. So there wasn't any room for the bus driver to exit the bus with the passengers. I definitely want to commend the driver for his actions. He did not move the bus until everyone was off that bus. And then they continued traveling eastbound on Linden Boulevard.
So to summarize, they went from 197 and Linden to where it collided to 233rd and Linden Boulevard.
- Does anybody have any other questions?
- Yeah, I mean, I'm just confused. So he jumped out a window where?
- At approximately 232nd Street. So it was about one block.
JERRY O'SULLIVAN: Approximately a block away.
- That's correct.
- We don't know if this man took control of the wheel or just couldn't get control.
- No, it appears that he did take control of the wheel by climbing over the partition. And then the bus subsequently crashed right behind us.
- Chief, could you tell about the power being out in the area [INAUDIBLE] here? I see some [INAUDIBLE].
JERRY O'SULLIVAN: Right. So first of all, I want to commend Con Edison for their quick response. And they made the bus and the scene safe.
I spoke with Con Edison. They said that they believe the power should be out for approximately at least three hours. But they're working on it.
- Any other questions?
- How many passengers were initially on the bus that got off?
JERRY O'SULLIVAN: We believe there was approximately 20 to 25 people on the bus.
- So this could have clearly been a lot worse.
JERRY O'SULLIVAN: It could have been a lot worse. And again, I believe the driver was calm and did a great job up until the point of collision.
- And about how many homeowners are affected without power at this time?
JERRY O'SULLIVAN: It's hard to say. But this immediate area, Linden Boulevard-- it's a large street here-- there's a school right where that collision occurred. That's without power. Linden Boulevard, there's no traffic lights here either. So I don't know how far the no power extends.
- Probably about two to three blocks in each direction off Linden Boulevard. But right now, Con Ed is actively working on it to correct the issue.
- Last question, the school-- the school was occupied with kids?
JERRY O'SULLIVAN: It was.
- What happened with the children?
JERRY O'SULLIVAN: They were sent home from school.
- Do you know how many kids were in the school?
JERRY O'SULLIVAN: I don't know. I spoke with the people at the school. They had students there. They started very early, and they were all safe.
- Thank you, everybody.
- Please, could we get all the names?