A Port Authority bus driver was assaulted by a passenger Saturday morning after a dispute over a fare, a spokesman said, but was saved from more serious injuries by another passenger who intervened.
Joseph O. Shumba, 32, of Wilkinsburg boarded the 79 bus at about 11:30 a.m. at the corner of Wilner Drive and Robinson Boulevard in East Hills and tried to pay half fare, Port Authority police wrote in a criminal complaint. An argument about that between the driver, Johnene Barnett, and Mr. Shumba got heated, Port Authority spokesman Jim Ritchie said.
Mr. Shumba reached behind the driver and grabbed a metal bar used by drivers to help move seats to make room for passengers with wheelchairs. The man swung the bar, hitting Ms. Barnett's face, the back of her head and shoulders. Police said she was hit an unknown number of times.
Police said they saw in video footage that Mr. Shumba was swinging again when another passenger, Joseph Phillips, ran up, grabbed Mr. Shumba and pushed him off the bus. Mr. Shumba then threw the bar at the driver from outside the bus and walked away, police said.
Port Authority police found him a short time later, and Mr. Shumba told them he had hit the driver, was sorry and "could pay for the fare now." He faces two felony counts of aggravated assault.
Ms. Barnett was treated and released Saturday from a local hospital with minor injuries -- bumps and bruises -- Mr. Ritchie said. Mr. Phillips had minor injuries to his hand and arm but refused treatment at the scene, he said.
Mr. Ritchie praised Mr. Phillips, who "stepped in and probably prevented what could have been an uglier situation."
Such incidents are rare on Port Authority buses, he said, but "unfortunately this kind of stuff does happen from time-to-time."