NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A city bus operator is recovering from an attack while on his route in the Bronx.
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, someone inside the bus took aim at the driver with a pocket laser, using the light to temporarily blind him.
“It was like looking into a bright light. It was a red beam,” said MTA bus driver Kenneth Johnson.
Nursing a headache, with his vision impaired, Johnson said he was working his BX15 route Wednesday night when someone got on with a high-powered laser pointer.
Seated at the very back, the red light started darting across the controls and windshield up front.
Johnson said he looked into his mirror and that’s when it happened.
“I was blinded by the light, so I really couldn’t identify who the passenger was who was shooting it,” he said.
The bus screeched to a halt on Third Avenue at East 181st Street. Whoever was responsible was able to escape with a crowd of about 25 other riders.
Other bus riders want the suspect caught before it happens again.
“This cannot be tolerated at all,” said one woman.
Johnson said he is eager to return to work, but he’ll be checked out by MTA doctors before he’ll be able to get back behind the wheel.
“Right now, they’re still waiting for the results to see if there’s more retinal damage,” he said.
Frank Austin, of the Transport Workers Union, said police now have video footage from inside the bus, though the video is not being made public yet.
“Thank God that no one was injured,” Austin said.
The MTA said its fleet of 5,700 buses includes approximately 1,600 security camera systems.
“I’m very happy that my bus had video cameras, and I believe all New York City buses should have cameras as well,” said Johnson. “It’s startling that somebody wouldn’t even think about life, to shining a laser at an operator.”
This is the first known case of a laser pointer being used to attack an MTA bus driver.
After many similar incidents with green lasers pointed at plane and helicopter pilots, bus operators worry that a potentially deadly extension of the trend is now here in a flash.