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Video shows frantic shootout between driver and passenger aboard CATS bus

CATS Bus driver David Fullard and passenger Omarri Sharrif Tobias exchange gunfire on May 18, 2023.
City of Charlotte
Charlotte Area Transit System
CATS Bus driver David Fullard and passenger Omarri Sharrif Tobias exchange gunfire on May 18, 2023.

Charlotte Area Transit System bus surveillance video from May 18 released last week shows an extended argument between a passenger and a driver, followed by a rapid exchange of gunfire that continued even after both men were wounded.

CATS said that the passenger, Omarri Sharrif Tobias, wanted driver David Fullard to let him off at an unscheduled stop on the route 56 bus near the outlet mall in Steele Creek. CATS said Fullard refused.

The video, released by CATS after public records requests from multiple news outlets, shows Tobias standing near Fullard outside a protective screen and repeatedly taunting him, saying “I dare you to touch me.” He also told the driver he would “pop his (expletive).”

EXPLICIT CONTENT WARNING: CATS security video shows bus driver, passenger shooting each other

The passenger had been holding a cellphone in his left hand. About two minutes after the argument started, Tobias took out a handgun with his right hand from his jacket, checking the firearm and holding it while he stood.

While Fullard was still driving, Tobias came even closer to the driver. Fullard then pulled out his own handgun and shots were fired. It’s unclear who shot first, as the bus careens to a stop on the sidewalk.

Tobias, who was hit, then crawls to the back of the bus. Fullard, who said he was hit in the arm, then stands up and points the gun at Tobias. He tells him to “Get your (expletive) back!” The driver also yells at the passenger that, “You shot me (expletive!)”

Tobias at that point was on top of a female passenger near the back door, who was lying down.

More shots are then fired.

Tobias then leaves the bus through a back door. Fullard leaves the bus by the front door, continuing to point a gun toward the passenger, who had fled behind a large container for donated clothes. In addition to the woman, there was one other passenger on the bus. Neither was injured.

Interim CATS Chief Executive Brent Cagle said last week that Fullard had been fired by the management company that runs the bus system. CATS employees are prohibited from having guns at work.

Tobias has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injuries, among other charges.

“Do I think the driver handled this appropriately? I understand everyone’s need to protect themselves,” Cagle said last week. “I also believe this incident may have been avoided had there been other actions ahead of this, ahead of the gunfire.”

Cagle said the driver could let the passenger go to defuse the situation, even though it was against policy.

CATS will invest more in de-escalation training and security in the next two years.

The Charlotte Area Transit System said it plans more de-escalation training for bus drivers after a passenger and a driver shot one another on a bus in Steele Creek.

Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.