The arrest of a Winnipeg Transit passenger in possession of an axe and brass knuckles on Friday night raises more concerns for bus drivers, says their union president.
The incident is the latest in a string of troubling events that have occurred recently on city buses, Amalgamated Transit Union president John Callahan said Saturday morning.
"I'm very concerned," said Callahan. "There's so many operators right now that are scared."
Police confirmed Saturday they arrested a 22-year-old male at Watt Street and Nairn Avenue just after 9:30 p.m. Friday night.
Officials said the suspect got on the bus near Regent Avenue and Bond Street shortly after 9 p.m.
Braedon Andrew was sitting in the back of the half-full bus and said the suspect started waving the axe around.
"[A] suspicious looking person was waving around the axe, not trying to like intimidate anyone really, but just really being awkward and holding it out," he said.
A few passengers saw what was happening and were able to disarm the suspect, Andrew said. The passengers then led the suspect off the bus with the help of the driver.
"I definitely felt threatened because anyone wielding an axe on the bus is not a good sign," Andrew said.
When police arrived the suspect was standing on the sidewalk.
He's since been detained on two counts of possession of a weapon and two counts of failing to comply with conditions.
The incident comes on the heels of a fatal stabbing that left Winnipeg Transit driver Irvine Jubal Fraser dead after his last stop of the night at the University of Manitoba on Feb. 14.
Callahan said drivers are becoming increasingly worried about their safety and one bus operator received a threat earlier in the week.
"Her husband, who's also a driver, actually rode with her last night. So it's fortunate that that incident didn't happen on their bus, but there's a lot of concern out there."
Callahan said since Fraser's death, there have been other troubling incidents on city buses.
'People being totally outrageous'
He said that last weekend, a passenger threatened to stab a driver. And earlier on Friday, another passenger was caught with two steak knives in his pockets.
After last weekend's incident, "the operator called into the control centre very upset," Callahan said, adding some passengers are "pushing buttons" to make things worse.
"There was a passenger that was asked to scan their transfer by another bus operator and he said, 'You know what, this is why you guys get killed.'
"Some people are being just totally outrageous in the comments that they're making in light of such a serious issue."