Metro driver recalls terror, riders who rushed to help

EDGEWOOD, Pierce County — One day after he survived a gunman’s bullets, Metro bus driver DeLoy Dupuis said he’s thankful to be alive.

Speaking outside his Edgewood home Tuesday afternoon, Dupuis, 64, described the shooting as “quite an ordeal,” but appeared relaxed.

The veteran driver suffered wounds to his cheek and arm when felon Martin Anwar Duckworth, 31, opened fire Monday morning on Dupuis’ Route 27 bus in downtown Seattle.

Duckworth then led police on a brief chase to a second Metro bus, where he was fatally shot after pointing a revolver at officers at least twice. The driver of that bus was described by a Metro official Tuesday as “considerably more traumatized” than Dupuis, although he was not physically injured.

Dupuis was released from Harborview Medical Center a few hours after the shooting. On Tuesday, his face and arm still bore bandages, and his wife said he wasn’t feeling well.

Shelley Coleman said her husband is recovering from his wounds, but the incident has affected him.

“He was terrified,” Coleman said. “All he could think about was how to get out of the range. He was dodging bullets, again and again.”

Even before the shooting, Coleman said, Dupuis had occasionally talked to her about feeling unsafe when he drove during night shifts. Still, his wife said, he thought it was the best job he’d ever had. He moved to the day shift in June; the couple believed it would be safer.

“I guess that’s not true,” Coleman told reporters.

Coleman and her husband are grateful for the people, including passengers, who rushed to help him after he was shot.

“After seeing my father, feeling that overwhelming sense of relief knowing he is going to be OK, I couldn’t help but think about how close it really was,” said his son, Marc Dupuis.

The younger Dupuis said his father loves his job and believes he performs a “critical service for a number of different populations.”

“He really enjoys his regular customers,” Marc Dupuis said Tuesday. “My dad’s main concern has always been the safety and welfare of his passengers.”

Paul Bachtel, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587, said Metro was already preparing to give the course on de-escalating conflict, even before Monday’s violence.

“I’m sure that training will happen. I also believe nothing Metro could have done would have prevented this incident. Until our society gives proper treatment to the mentally ill, incidents like this will continue to occur,” Bachtel said.

Dupuis has been a Metro bus driver since 1999.

According to Seattle police, Dupuis had stopped his bus at 8:48 a.m. on Third Avenue in front of Benaroya Hall when three people used a rear door to board without paying. Dupuis asked them to pay their fares and two complied.

The third man, later identified as Duckworth, paced back and forth inside the bus and then assaulted Dupuis. He pulled out a revolver and shot Dupuis at least twice.

Dupuis told KIRO-TV he was “bobbing and weaving” in an attempt to avoid the gunshots, his seat belt limiting his movement. He recalled screaming, “No, no, no,” he said.

Duckworth climbed off the bus and made his way to the Route 120 bus, which was stopped for a traffic signal on Seneca Street at Second Avenue.

According to Jim O’Rourke, Metro operations manager, Duckworth pointed a handgun at the bus driver and yelled, “Open the … bus!” several times.

The Metro driver meant to open only the rear door to let passengers escape but inadvertently opened the front door as well, said O’Rourke, based on statements by the unidentified driver and others.

The driver shut the front door, but Duckworth squeezed through.

The driver then rushed toward the back, yelled at everyone to get down, and sprawled on the bus floor, O’Rourke said.

Several passengers fled through the back door but some remained in the seats and in the rear, he said.

The bus carried 30 to 40 people, although on some mornings the bus is jammed with riders.

A man riding the 120 bus Wednesday was on the 120 when Duckworth was shot. He said he saw another passenger jump out a window near the bend of the articulated bus when the shooting began. He also said another six to eight people hit the floor in the rear of the bus.

“There was a wave of people flooding back here,” he recounted on the bus Wednesday morning

After the ordeal, he heard from other riders that the fleeing bus driver stopped in the aisle, to shoo an older woman and a young girl toward the rear.

As police surrounded the bus, Duckworth pointed the revolver at them at least twice and ignored orders to drop the handgun. Four officers opened fire, police said.

The second Metro driver, who has seven years of experience, is on indefinite paid leave, O’Rourke said. Metro is withholding his name.

O’Rourke said the driver will be seeing a counselor.

Based on early reports, O’Rourke said, it appears Dupuis followed Metro policy by asking the three men who boarded to pay their fare once. Drivers are trained to ask once for the fare, if they feel safe doing so, and not to provoke a confrontation.

Duckworth, who has been described as a street criminal, had a history of drug offenses and mental-health problems, according to court records. He was known to other Metro drivers.

Linda Averill, a veteran bus driver, said she saw Duckworth last week, screaming on a Third Avenue sidewalk.

“He was strutting back and forth, yelling ‘War!’ somewhere between Union and Pine,” said Averill. “He was yelling at the top of his lungs. It was pretty startling and disturbing.”

Seattle police did not release new information on the incident Tuesday, saying it remains under investigation.

Among the unanswered questions is how and where Duckworth obtained the revolver used to shoot Dupuis. No details have been disclosed about the weapon, which Duckworth was not allowed to carry as a felon.

Although Metropolitan King County Executive Dow Constantine characterized the shooting of Dupuis as “an isolated incident,” veteran drivers say there’s an ongoing problem with mentally ill people boarding the buses.

Some say there is virtually no training on how to handle them.

Bus drivers play a role of “first responders” but receive virtually no relevant training in first aid, self-defense or de-escalating confrontations, said Averill.

O’Rourke said the incident “gives us pause, makes us consider” increased de-escalation training, and instruction on how to deal with the mentally ill.

This week, he said, Metro is launching refresher courses in the areas of conflict reduction; help for people with disabilities; and awareness of pedestrians.

Seattle Times staff reporters Steve Miletich and Mike Lindblom and news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.