KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – We are learning more about the officer-involved shooting that happened in Kansas City on Thursday at the intersection of Hardesty and Independence Avenue.
Police cleared the scene around 3 p.m. following a major police investigation that involved an Independence Avenue bus stop.
According to police, at around 10:35 a.m. an armed robbery occurred a couple of blocks down the road near a Phillips 66 gas station.
The suspect got on a KC bus and the driver of the bus, who saw the whole robbery happen, contacted police. The driver then began traveling down Independence Avenue slowly, trying to give police time to arrive.
When the bus stopped at the next stop near the intersection of Hardesty and Independence, a KCPD officer tried getting on the bus, but was shot by the suspect.
The suspect then shot at the bus driver, an incident that one man said he saw right in front of him.
Barthany Bodenstaff was stuck in line at McDonald’s when all this was going on. He said he planned to drive across the street to the Hardesty Self Storage when chaos broke out.
“Where do I go?" Bodenstaff said. "What do I do? We are sitting in the drive-thru, car in front of me, car behind me and not much room to get out. Like, shoot, I got to get out of here. I was watching him run backwards from Walgreens, heading across to the pawn shop. Oh great, he’s coming to McDonald’s to start shooting.”
He said being stuck at the drive thru was probably one of the scariest moments ever.
“I’m trying to get out," Bodenstaff recalled. "Got somebody sitting in front of me that wouldn’t go and I’m like, ‘Come on, buddy! Go! Let me get out of here so we don’t get shot!’ I don’t know what to do, I guess just sit it out and ride it out. That’s all I could do”
Officials said the officer and the bus driver who were shot were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The officer has already been released from the hospital.
The suspect was taken to the hospital with life-threatening wounds.
Police are saying the bus driver is a hero because of her swift action regarding the situation. They say without the driver’s actions, who knows where that suspect would be now.
In a statement, Ride KC CEO Robbie Makinen said, in part: “Every day our courageous operators are on the front lines, committed to the citizens of the Kansas City region. All of the Ride KC Transit family is praying for a full recovery of our operator and our officer, and thank KCPD for their quick response.”
Some who take that very bus route every day are speaking out, saying more needs to be done to keep the bus drivers safe.
Shirley Tucker is a frequent transit rider.
“I almost got on this bus and, thankfully, I’m glad I didn’t,” she said.
She said word of the shooting spread quickly at the bus stops.
“It’s terrible,” she said. “It’s very terrible.”
However, she said she’s not surprised because she recalls past riding experiences.
“There was a guy on there that had a knife and a gun, and they had to get him off the bus,” she said. “He threatened to shoot people on the bus. So, I too was very close to being shot on a bus.”
Another rider we spoke to echoes her feelings.
“There’s been several times people get on there drunk and start threatening people,” Robert Richardson said.
Just a year ago, KCATA approved a policy that requires bus drivers to stay behind a barrier. One of the reasons was to avoid unruly passengers. That barrier is not bulletproof, though.
While many are deeming the driver in Thursday’s shooting a hero, passengers said more needs to be done to protect them.
“I think she did the best that she could for the position she was placed in,” Richardson said.
“They should be allowed to wear bulletproof vests, same as what the police officers are allowed to wear,” Tucker said.
“I think they should have more security on the bus,” Richardson said. “A security guard or someone riding with the bus driver at all times.”
In the afternoon, the head of the transit union said they were waiting to speak with the driver. He also said they’re working to implement the barriers on all buses. Currently, they do not exist on the smaller buses. They’re also working to be able to provide the bus drivers with hazard pay, which is something they currently do not receive.