Arrest after buses shot at; windows shattered

Police talk to the driver of a passenger bus that was allegedly shot at yesterday morning.  Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Police talk to the driver of a passenger bus that was allegedly shot at yesterday morning. Photo by Gregor Richardson.

A passenger on her way to work in Dunedin yesterday heard a ''pop'' and watched in horror as a bus window shattered in an alleged drive-by shooting.

Minutes before, she had been waiting for the bus in Bayfield Rd, Musselburgh Rise, when a friend told her it was running late, as the previous bus had been shot at.

''Oh my god, there it is again,'' Bev Ramsay recalled thinking, as the window exploded just two seats in front of her.

Earlier, passengers from the first bus saw a white car speed away as the window behind the driver shattered in Silverton St, Andersons Bay, about 7.40am.

Mrs Ramsay said some of the same passengers were later taken on her bus, and again watched a window behind the driver shatter as a white car was driven off.

Yesterday, police said a 21-year-old unemployed Dunedin man had been arrested at a residential property in connection with the bus incidents and for allegedly firing into a window of a Hunt St home.

Senior Sergeant Dave Scott, of Dunedin, said the man was charged with wilful damage, with further Arms Act offences pending because ''he put passengers at risk''.

The weapon was a ''slug-type pistol which fires metal pellets'', and if it was able to break glass, it could have had serious consequences for the drivers and their passengers, he said.

''Clearly, the action of a man not thinking about the consequences.

''You don't need a firearms licence to use them, but clearly we would expect if you bought one you would have a few clues about you, and clearly this guy hasn't.''

Snr Sgt Scott confirmed there was a possible link to some drive-by shootings earlier this month, involving paintball pellets.

The man was expected to appear in the Dunedin District Court next week.

Ritchies regional manager (Otago) Malcolm Budd told the Otago Daily Times he was pleased no-one was hurt in the incidents, which left both drivers shaken.

It was particularly concerning both windows were near an area reserved for disabled passengers or prams, he said.

The windows were replaced urgently at a cost of about $3000 apiece and both buses were returned to service yesterday afternoon.

Mr Budd confirmed two buses were hit by paint ball pellets in the same area a month ago, with a driver obtaining a registration of a white car.

Serious offence

He could have caused a serious accident, which could have led to deaths of innocent people. Shattering glass could have blinded someone. The distraction could have caused the bus driver to veer off the road or into an oncoming vehicle. "Willful damage" seems too light of a charge.

Bus passengers and bus drivers should be able to feel safe, not vulnerable. I take the bus regularly, and this makes me more paranoid about doing so in the future.

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