Argument on bus leads to stabbing near USC after Metro declares public safety emergency

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Saturday, April 27, 2024
Argument on Metro bus leads to stabbing in University Park area
A person was stabbed after an argument on a Metro bus near USC. It came just a day after Metro declared a public safety emergency.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- An argument on a Metro bus led to a stabbing in the University Park area, not long after the transit agency's Board of Directors declared a public safety emergency in response to recent attacks on riders and drivers.

The latest incident of violence unfolded Friday afternoon. Officers responded to the intersection of Adams Boulevard and Figueroa Way around 12:35 p.m. and discovered a man had sustained a stabbing injury, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

According to a statement from Metro, three people got into an argument aboard the Silver Line bus.

The operator stopped the vehicle and the passengers exited. That's when the stabbing occurred.

According to Metro, the bus remained at the scene since other passengers were witnesses. A suspect was located and detained a short distance away near Grand Avenue and Adams Boulevard, authorities said.

The person who was injured was taken to the hospital in unknown condition.

The proximity of the crime scene to a Metro bus again raised concerns about safety on the transit system, which has seen multiple attacks on bus drivers in recent weeks, and a fatal stabbing on a B (Red) Line train in Studio City earlier this week.

Metro safety concerns

In addition to declaring a public safety emergency, Metro's Board of Directors agreed to procure new safety barriers for bus drivers and taking other steps to enhance safety on the system.

The board unanimously adopted a recommendation to acquire new barriers for hundreds of buses, in response to a "sudden, unexpected increased severity of assaults on operators." According to Metro, assaults on bus operators increased from 92 attacks in 2019 to 160 in 2023, and they continue to escalate this year.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority declared a public safety emergency while agreeing to procure safety barriers for bus drivers.

Metro board member and Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger also introduced a motion, co-authored by several of her colleagues, to quickly explore solutions to bolster public safety, prompted by the death of 66-year- old Mirna Soza Arauz, who was stabbed in an apparently unprovoked attack earlier this week.

"Metro riders deserve to be safe on the system, and we will continue to do all that," Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, who chairs the Board of Directors, said during Thursday's meeting. "We can keep not only our riders, but also our operators, safe, and I know that as a board, we will step up to this challenge because that's what frankly the people of Los Angeles deserve."

Barger said her motion calls for the agency to secure station gate entrances and exits, analyze data on violent crimes -- including those by reoffenders -- occurring on the system, and speed up pilot solutions at some of the most "challenging" stations. The motion was co-authored by Supervisors Janice Hahn and Hilda Solis, as well as L.A. City Council President Paul Krekorian, Inglewood Mayor James Butts and Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian.

Among other measures the Board of Directors called for were quickly increasing security cameras, implementing facial recognition technology, and using other technology. The agency may also look into ways of banning problematic individuals from Metro altogether.

"We have received reports highlighting improvements since last year on crime stats and over other key areas," Barger said. "But the reality is that we are fighting a battle with one hand tied behind our back."

A former Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority chief safety officer reacted to recent violent incidents on buses and a subway train.

At one point, Barger said she didn't feel safe riding Metro by herself.

"I hate to say it, I will not ride our transit system by myself," Barger said.

Metro riders on high alert

Passengers who rely on the Metro transit system say they've been on high alert after the recent violent encounters.

"I'm petrified on these things. I don't get to carry Mace because I use it to going to sports events and you can't take Mace with you," said Judy Scheidhauer. "So therefore yes, I'm scared on these things."

"I'm used to riding and doing what I need to do," said Yvette Hardin of Covina. "I keep my head on a swivel. Sometimes when it gets later and later at night, it makes it dangerous."

Some riders did not express the same level of concern.

"I try not to fall asleep on the train, but generally, I feel fine," one man told Eyewitness News.

City News Service contributed to this report.