SEATTLE — A bus driver hailed as a hero for steering his bus away from a gunman who opened fire in Seattle on him and his passengers says he was just doing his job but is “glad to be alive.”
Eric Stark was hit in the torso by a bullet but authorities have said he still managed to turn the bus around and drive his passengers to safety from the gunman walking in a neighborhood who went on to kill two men, apparently at random, before he was taken into custody
Stark ,53, “saved lives and took action even after being harmed,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkin.
But Stark, recovering Thursday in a hospital, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday “it’s what any other driver would be able to do if they were physically able.”
The events unfolded at about 4 p.m. Wednesday in Seattle’s Lake City neighborhood, when the gunman walked up to a 56-year-old female driver, shooting and wounding her. The man, who police had still not identified Thursday, then walked on and fired at the bus, hitting Stark, authorities said.
“I ducked down really quick for some cover, did like a two-second assessment of my injuries and figured — well, I can breathe, I can think, I can see, and I can talk,” Stark said from his hospital room. “So for me that was enough to go, ‘OK, we’re getting out of here. I’ve gotta get these people out of here.'”
The gunman, identified in jail records as Tad Michael Norman, then approached a second motorist and opened fire, killing a 50-year-old man, according to police. After officers arrived, the suspect fled in that victim’s vehicle. He drove a few blocks and then collided with another car, killing the 70-year-old male driver, fire department officials said.
Norman, 33, was taken into custody after a brief standoff, police said. King County Jail records showed he was booked on investigation of homicide, robbery and assault Thursday after his release from a hospital for treatment of what were characterized as minor injuries.
Witness John Barrett told the KOMO television station that he was in his garage when he heard what sounded like fire crackers.
He went outside and saw a man with a gun pointing it at people as he walked down a street “just firing at anything just without any regard.”
None of the passengers aboard the bus driven by Stark were hurt, the King County Metro Transit agency said.
Stark managed to get off the bus and walk to a gurney so paramedics could take him to the hospital, said Kenneth Price, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587, which represents drivers.
Stark has worked for the transit agency seven years and “acted heroically in the face of extreme adversity to protect his passengers,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine said has worked for King County Metro for seven years.
Stark, the woman who was shot and the suspect were taken to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center. None suffered life-threatening injuries, said hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg.
“Our thoughts now are with families of those killed and those injured,” said Durkan. “The entire city of Seattle is pulling for them.”