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Bus Drivers Try To ID Shooter

November 30, 1998

SEATTLE (AP) _ Bus drivers stared at the photographs as they came to work.

One was of Mark McLaughlin, the 44-year-old colleague who was shot by a passenger Friday, causing his 60-foot bus to careen across Aurora Bridge, plow through a guardrail and fall 50 feet onto an apartment house.

The other picture showed a front view and profile of Steven Coole, a clean-cut 43-year-old man suspected of firing those shots before turning the gun upon himself. He’s also known to acquaintances as Silas Cool, though police have not said which name is correct.

McLaughlin’s picture was posted as part of a makeshift memorial at the Metro Transit bus base Sunday. Coole’s was up in the hope that another driver might recognize him and help police in their investigation.

The crash left three people dead, including the driver and the gunman. Passenger Herman Liebelt, 69, died Saturday of his injuries.

Everyone else on the bus, 32 people, was injured; 16 remained hospitalized Sunday, with one man in critical condition.

``I’ve never seen this individual before,″ driver Roger Higbee told KIRO-TV News at the bus station, ``and I’ve talked to many drivers today and no one so far seems to recognize this individual and they all are at a loss as to why this happened.″

Police said they did not know of a motive.

Authorities have not confirmed that Coole shot McLaughlin. Ballistics tests were to be returned today.

Coole, as his name is listed in Seattle area court records, is believed to be from North Plainfield, N.J., 25 miles west of New York City. A man who answered the telephone at the home of D.R. Cool in North Plainfield refused to comment Sunday.

On the day of the shooting, former classmates of Silas Cool at North Plainfield High School were holding their 25th reunion. They hadn’t been able to locate the former student they remembered as nice but quiet.

``This weekend should have been a time of celebration, but it’s real sad to hear that one of our own lost his life this way,″ said Dan Battista of North Plainfield, who remembered Cool from gym class.

To Seattle bus rider Chad Reilly, the hunched-over man talking to himself at a bus stop Friday afternoon had looked like someone to avoid.

``From what it sounds like, I might have seen the guy,″ he said Sunday. ``But I can’t swear to it.

``He was talking to himself, obviously kind of out of it,″ Reilly said. ``I’ve seen some weird stuff on buses _ some disturbed and generally disturbing people.″

Reilly, who had been nursing a cup of coffee, said the man locked eyes with him and commented on their drinks. He was drinking a beer.

``It’s not caffeine,″ Reilly said the man told him. ``It’s carbonated.″

Reilly decided to move on to another bus stop.

``Buses in general I don’t have a problem with,″ he said. ``It’s people with guns that shouldn’t have them that I have a problem with.″

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