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Bus Crashes Off Seattle Bridge

November 28, 1998

SEATTLE (AP) _ A passenger on a city bus shot the driver in the arm Friday, causing the bus carrying at least 35 people to crash off a bridge and into an apartment building, police said.

The driver was thrown from the bus and killed, and a second man, who was shot in the head, died at Harborview Medical Center, said police spokeswoman Christie Lynn Bonner.

Police concluded late Friday night that there was just one gunman ``and that this shooter did not leave the scene before police and fire arrived,″ Bonner said.

She said that would mean the gunman was either the dead passenger or one of the injured taken to local hospitals.

``We don’t want people out there to panic, thinking there’s probably a person running around with a gun who could do it again,″ Bonner said.

Bus passengers described the shooter as a man in his 40s wearing a tan coat, hat and sunglasses. The bus driver was identified as Mark F. McLaughlin, 44, of Lynnwood, said Jane Jorgensen of the King County medical examiner’s office.

Injured passengers lay on the street, many critically injured with broken bones and bleeding wounds.

The bus tumbled from the Aurora Bridge, which crosses Seattle’s Ship Canal, about 50 feet down into the apartment building and came to rest in front of the building.

Fire Department spokeswoman Sheila Strehle said the 30 passengers were taken to six area hospitals.

Strehle said one passenger remained in critical condition Friday night and others suffered injuries ranging from minor arm pain to a broken neck and internal injuries.

No one on the ground or in the apartment building was injured.

Firefighters searched the area around and beneath the bus, but no other victims were reported.

A handgun was recovered at the scene but police could not immediately say whether that was the weapon used. A second handgun was recovered from the dead passenger but it apparently had not been fired recently, Bonner said.

``They did find a firearm on somebody in the emergency room, but I don’t believe it had been fired,″ said Harborview Medical Center spokeswoman Tina Mankowski.

A passenger approached the bus driver and shot him as the bus was southbound, headed toward downtown, Bonner said.

The driver lost control and the bus crossed the northbound lanes and struck a van and a light pole before plunging through the guardrail, Bonner said. The person driving the van was shaken but not injured.

The bus landed mostly in the yard of the two-story apartment house on the hillside beneath the bridge, though the building’s roof was damaged.

Firefighters were seen crawling among the wreckage of the bus’ two sections, and performing first aid on a victim _ believed to be the bus driver _ atop the apartment’s roof. The driver was apparently thrown from the bus onto the roof.

Victims, some of them dazed and bleeding, could be seen below the bridge.

Dave Chacone, who was staying in the apartment building that was hit, said he was standing on a porch directly underneath the bridge. The bus flew right overhead.

``We were outside talking, heard a noise, looked up and saw this bus coming,″ he said. ``I looked up and saw some big chunks (of concrete railing) coming right at me.″

Sara Krause was grazed by a piece of falling concrete. People from the bus ``were moaning and screaming,″ she said. ``I saw legs and twisted bodies.″

The city’s Fremont district is located beneath the bridge. It is a densely populated neighborhood of homes, apartments, shops and restaurants.

``This is a busy, urban neighborhood,″ said Judy Jurji, who was getting mail from her porch when the accident occurred. ``It’s just a miracle that more people were not hurt.″

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