General Crime

VTA Bus Driver Allegedly Attacked by Man with Knife, Witnesses Defend Driver

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A VTA bus driver was threatened by a passenger in Morgan Hill Thursday, but nearby restaurant workers came to his rescue in an incident that was caught on tape.

Good Samaritan Art Nazzal, the proprietor of Morgan Hill restaurant Mr. Falafel, lost his leg in a motorcycle accident more than 10 years ago. One might think that he wouldn’t put himself in harm’s way, but on Thursday he was one of the main rescuers who came to the bus driver’s defense.

Nazzal and several of his employees came to the bus after it stopped in front of his restaurant at Monterey Street at 2nd with the confrontation between the passenger and driver already in progress.

“He has the bus driver by his shirt, punching him and trying to stab him with a pen,” explained Nazzal.

Cell phone video of the confrontation was taken by someone in a nearby car who called 911.

The video shows Nazzal standing by the door of the bus. As one of his workers kicks at the suspect on the stairs of the bus, Nazzal uses one of his crutches to hit the man.

“I was like whack! and nailed him,” said Nazzal.

One of the workers hops on the bus through a back door. Seconds later, the video shows the man being thrown off the bus by the employee. The suspect tumbles and runs away with an object in his hand.

VTA officials said the driver was being threatened with a ballpoint pen. The suspect grabbed a tool kept on the bus used to unlatch windows when he jumped off the bus.

The VTA reported no one was injured, but the transit agency is reviewing its security procedures.

“Incidents are rare and, compared to all the transit systems throughout the US, VTA is within the top 10 as one of the safest systems in the country,” said a VTA spokesperson.

Morgan Hill Police ended up arresting the man a short distance away. As for Nazzal, he was grateful the suspect was caught. He’s remained humble about the part he played.

“I wasn’t thinking of that,” said Nazzal. “We don’t want him to get hurt. That’s not right.”

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