17-year-old arrested in connection with stabbing of Metro bus driver in Woodland Hills, LAPD says

Friday, May 26, 2023
Teen arrested in stabbing of bus driver in Woodland Hills, LAPD says
A 17-year-old boy has been arrested in connection with the stabbing of a Metro bus driver in Woodland Hills, LAPD Michel Moore said Thursday.

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. (KABC) -- A 17-year-old boy was arrested Thursday in connection with the stabbing of a Metro bus driver in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said.

According to investigators, the suspect got into an argument with the driver shortly after 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday. As the argument continued, both individuals stepped off the bus near the intersection of Topanga Canyon Boulevard and Erwin Street. The suspect then repeatedly stabbed the driver with a knife or sharp object.

Moore said the 61-year-old bus driver remains hospitalized in critical condition.

"The nature of the injuries he sustained were definitely beyond life-threatening, and certainly in many other instances he would not have survived the level of this attack," Moore said Thursday afternoon at a news conference.

The critically injured victim was transported to Dignity Health Northridge Hospital Medical Center, where he underwent surgery, Los Angeles police said. His identity was not made public.

WATCH: $25,000 reward offered as search continues for man who stabbed Metro bus driver in Woodland Hills

A $25,000 reward has been announced as the search continued for the man who police said stabbed a Metro bus driver in Woodland Hills.

Police are not identifying the suspect due to his age. The arrest happened around 2:45 p.m. at what's believed to be the suspect's residence in the San Fernando Valley, Moore said.

It was unclear what led detectives to the suspect, although Moore credited assistance from the public. Moore said police conducted a sweeping manhunt throughout the San Fernando Valley throughout the night after the suspect fled. Police also circulated photos of the suspect captured by a surveillance camera on the bus.

The suspect was initially described as a 6-foot-tall man, about 21 years old, with blonde curly hair. He was wearing a red shirt, black pants and carrying a black backpack.

The suspect will be booked for attempted murder, according to the LAPD.

Metro Board of Directors Chairman Ara Najarian, a Glendale City Council member, announced at the start of Thursday's board meeting that the agency was offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the assailant.

"Words fail to capture the depth of our sorrow and our concern for our injured employee," Najarian said. "I know this board stands together, united in our prayers and hopes for the operator's swift and complete recovery. This heart-wrenching incident reminds us of the risks our front-line employees face each day as they strive to serve our community in the face of such adversity."

Najarian noted that even after being stabbed and enduring "life- threatening" injuries, the driver managed to return to the bus after the attack and secure the vehicle to ensure that the passengers were safe.

Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins said the driver remained in critical condition Thursday morning, but his family told officials that he tried to open his eyes, which doctors saw as a good sign. She said Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and City Council members Paul Krekorian and Bob Blumenfield -- all Metro board members -- visited the hospital Wednesday night.

"The driver is still not out of the (woods), and we need to keep him in our prayers," Bass said at the Metro board meeting. "We know that ridership is down on the trains and the buses and we certainly don't want public safety to be the reason. But we definitely need to redouble our efforts in that regard."

Meanwhile, many riders continue to speak out about the disturbing crimes on Metro buses and trains.

"I've been attacked before, I had my wrist hurt, but I see that every day," said Jose Hernandez, who spoke with ABC7 Thursday night.

Louie Alvarez said he usually feels safe riding the bus but he is always on the lookout.

"A couple of months ago in this area, a woman got stabbed, so it's in the back of your mind, keep an eye, watch your back, not knowing who could come up on you," he said.

City News Service contributed to this report.