FAX bus driver punched by passenger

FRESNO, Calif.

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This is the first felony assault on a bus driver in the last two years. The attack happened after 7:00 Friday morning just down the street from the bus stop.

Action News caught the 17-year-old juvenile being placed in custody by Fresno Police after attacking a bus driver and passenger. We're not showing his face because he is a minor and detectives believe he suffers from mental illness.

"It shouldn't have happened. It's something that goes with the job and it occurs unfortunately once and a while," said Rick Steitz, the FAX bus driver union president.

Steitz said physical attacks, fair disputes and arguments are too common for drivers. According to FAX records 19 such incidents occurred in 2010. That's an increase from only 6 incidents in 2009.

The driver injured on Friday suffered a broken wrist and cut to the head. The passenger suffered only minor scratches.

"We now actually have the right to keep somebody from riding in the system in the event they create situations of continued problems," said Bruce Rudd, Fresno Assistant City Manager.

Rudd said state senate bill 1561 protects bus drivers and passengers by banning repeat offenders from riding.

Timothy Cockrum will never ride on a FAX bus again. Fresno Police said this cell phone video shows Cockrum beating a passenger on a bus almost a year ago.

Many FAX buses are also equipped with cameras, listening devices and G.P.S. monitors. But Friday's attack happened on a bus without this equipment. Several frequent bus riders we spoke with said fights and arguments will happen despite the modern technology.

Fresno's Linda Jansen: "Things happen everywhere. There's no guarantee of your safety in any place. You just have to keep your eyes open."

The 17-year-old faces felony assault charges, terrorist threat charges for claiming he was going to kill the driver and misdemeanor assault on the passenger.

The driver of the bus is on paid medical leave.

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