BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Four passengers who were traveling on a Greyhound bus when a man opened fire, killing one person, filed a lawsuit on Thursday in Kern County Superior Court alleging negligence on the part of the company in failing to implement adequate safety measures.
The suit, filed by the firm Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, says Greyhound buses have been the scene of numerous assaults for decades before the deadly shooting occurred Feb. 3 as a bus traveled north on Interstate 5, south of Fort Tejon Road.
“Greyhound has, for decades, persistently failed and refused to meaningfully address this risk and/or inform its passengers of and, in fact, has diminished the seriousness of this risk,” the suit says. “Such occurrences take place on Greyhound buses virtually monthly on its routes across North America, placing Greyhound’s passengers, as well as the motorists utilizing the highways of this nation, at substantial risk of serious harm.”
The carrier fails to adequately screen passengers before they board, according to the suit, and drivers are inadequately trained to prevent those carrying weapons from boarding and to respond to disruptions that could lead to violence. Many incidents of violence aboard Greyhound buses are the result of allowing obviously intoxicated or “mentally unstable” people aboard, the suit says.
As a result of the shooting, the plaintiffs have suffered “severe mental anguish, humiliation, pain, severe emotional distress and physical distress” and seek damages in an amount to be determined at trial, the suit says. The next hearing on the case is set for October.
The accused shooter, Anthony Devonte Williams, had his preliminary hearing postponed for two months on Thursday. Court documents say he admitted to bringing a gun aboard the bus and trying to shoot and kill a man with whom he argued.
A witness who rode with Williams on another bus they boarded in San Diego said Williams tried talking to everyone on the bus, according to the documents. He described Williams’ behavior as “a little strange” because no one talked back.
After switching buses in Los Angeles, Williams got increasingly loud as he talked to himself, according to a witness in the documents. When another man got up to use the bathroom, Williams told him to sit down.
Then Williams said, “I’m gonna shoot,” the witness told police, and he heard at least seven gunshots. Lurbis Elena Vence, 51, suffered multiple gunshot wounds and died at the scene.
Passengers disarmed Williams and he was forced off the bus and onto the shoulder of I-5, where California Highway Patrol officers arrested him.