CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – A city bus driver was shot and killed on Friday, February 11th in what police have classified as a road rage incident. A week later, on Friday, February 18th, the bus driver’s union is calling for increased security for their members.
Ethan Rivera, 41, was shot while on the job driving his bus, following a verbal confrontation with another motorist. He was transported to a local hospital for treatment and later died from his injuries. He had recently moved to Charlotte to be closer to his children, and went to work for CATS with hopes of providing for and spending more time with them…and eventually retiring.
The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) drivers’ group, City Bus Operator of Charlotte, gathered Friday for a ‘Day of Action in Support of Operators’ at the site of Rivera’s murder near Truist Park in Uptown. Those present observed a moment of silence at noon in honor of their fallen co-worker. CATS issued a statement calling for all community members to join in the observance and requested that all bus, rail and paratransit operators pause service temporarily if it could be done safely.
Christy Kiser has been a CATS operator for nearly 25 years, and is President of CBOC. “I’m scared for myself, and I’m scared for each one of my operators, my coworkers,” she said during Thursday night’s candlelight vigil for Rivera.
At that gathering, Ethan’s mother spoke out about her son’s death. “Whoever did this, whoever is out there, you’re being a coward in what you did. And anybody who knows something, please say something,” she said.
Kiser calls the current working conditions a ‘fatal environment’, and the group is calling for security on evening routes as well as bullet-resistant partitions and working telephones in all CATS vehicles. “Our operators are being spit on. They even have passengers saying, ‘this is the reason why you all are getting shot,’ she said.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is still seeking Rivera’s killer. Based on surveillance video the suspect appeared to be driving a 2003-2005 black Honda Pilot with running boards down both sides.