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Durham Shuts Off Bus Service To Parts Of City In Response To Shootings

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DURHAM, N.C. — City officials have shut down part of a bus route after a third shooting at a municipal bus and officials saidthe city must find another solution to the problem.

"My sense is we shouldn't give in to the people who are doing those things," Durham Mayor Bill Bell said Friday. "We've got people who rely on that bus for transportation. We've got to get out there on patrols and get the people responsible."

Postings along the route that stretches from downtown to northern Durham -- route 9 -- say that stops will be closed after 7 p.m. because of safety concerns.

Thomas Hartley, manager of the

Durham Area Transit Authority

bus system, said the closings are temporary.

Hartley said he will press for other measures.

"This is one alternative to address this issue," he said. "I will advocate for this not to go on for very long. Come Monday, I'm going to say we've got to come up with another alternative."

The move came after three DATA buses were damaged by bullets in three weeks.

On Wednesday, four people, including the driver, were on a bus when several shots were fired near the intersection of Old Oxford Highway and Danube Lane around 9:15 p.m., police said. Bullets damaged several windows on the bus.

Last week, a gunman reached through the window of a bus and opened fire, damaging two windows and the bus engine when it stopped at Cleveland Street andSeminary Avenue. Twenty-one people were on that bus, but nobody was injured.

On March 27, three possible gang members opened fire on a DATA bus at a Glenbrook Drive stop. The suspects reportedly were firingat three other possible gang members who were sitting on the bus, police said. Seven people were aboard at the time of the shooting, but no injuries were reported.

On Thursday night, two Durham police officers riding on a bus heard shots after a stop, Hartley said.

"Apparently, six young people got off, and, when they did, everybody on the bus heard several shots," Hartley said. "Thenthe officers directed the driver to move on."

Durham police Sgt. B.W. Ray said the officers could not tell if they were hearing gunshots or firecrackers.

"The fact is, if shots are going to be fired with police officers on the bus, and they're going to go on for two or threemore blocks without getting off to get the people responsible, they're going to go on (shooting)," Hartley said.

The bus service has hired a private security firm to protect the buses starting Monday. Armed guards will ride the buses, patrol thedowntown bus terminal and follow buses to conduct surveillance.