Local News

Durham Area Transit Heightens Security After Shots Fired At City Buses

Posted April 19, 2003 12:47 p.m. EDT

— Recent shootings targeting city buses is causing concern for the

Durham Area Transit Authority

and the people who use the service.

DATA general manager Thomas Hartley described the situation as out of control.

The latest incident happened Thursday night. Durham police thought they heard gunshots as passengers were getting off a bus at a stop on Danube Lane.

In three other recent incidents, bullets actually hit a bus.

Hartley signed a contract Thursday with the Wackenhut Corp. to provide three officers to secure the downtown terminal and on random buses.

All three shootings have involved the No. 9 route, which runs from downtown to the northern part of the city.

"It's totally out of control," Hartley said. "It's getting to the point where my employees are getting scared to ride the route. And I don't blame them."

Wednesday night someone shot at a DATA bus carrying four people.

Last week, a gunman reached through the window of a bus and opened fire, damaging two windows and the bus engine when the bus stopped. Twenty-one people were on that bus.

On March 27, three possible gang members opened fire on a DATA bus at a bus stop. The suspects were reportedly firing at three other possible gang members who were sitting on the bus, police said.

No one has been injured in the three incidents.

The contract with Wackenhut will put a guard at the downtown terminal, a second riding buses randomly and a third following bus routes in a separate vehicle. The officers will work Monday through Saturday from 3 p.m. to midnight, Hartley said.

The service, which begins Monday, will cost DATA about $220,000 annually. Hartley said the city would reimburse the cost.