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CATS driver shot, killed in 'senseless act of violence' on bus in Charlotte, officials say

A WFAE file photo of a CATS bus.
David Boraks
A WFAE file photo shows a CATS bus.

Upated 11:45 a.m. Feb. 14

Police are investigating after a Charlotte Area Transit System bus driver died after being shot while on duty in uptown Friday night — one of three people killed in weekend violence in North Carolina's largest city.

According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, officers were called to West Trade Street near South Graham Street around 9:30 p.m., where they found 41-year-old Ethan Rivera with serious injuries. Rivera was taken to a hospital but died on Saturday.

In a statement, CATS said Rivera was "the victim of a senseless act of violence."

"Ethan was a public servant and valued member of the Charlotte community," the agency said. "We grieve with his family during this time."

There were four passengers on the bus when Rivera was shot. None were injured.

Police have not described any of the events that led up to the shooting. WCNC-TV reports that Rivera and the yet-to-be-identified suspect were in "a verbal altercation" while stopped at a red light just before the shooting.

Videos from the scene showed a CATS bus that appeared to have run off the road. Detectives are investigating, but no arrests had been reported by Sunday afternoon.

On Monday, CATS CEO John Lewis said at a Charlotte City Council transportation committee meeting that police were still working to identify the shooter and that detectives had security recordings from the bus.

“Our words cannot adequately convey the depth of our feelings nor the tragedy of this loss," Lewis said. "But we will continue to move forward in providing mobility options to this community while we wrap our arms around Ethan’s family during this tragic time.”

WSOC-TV interviewed CATS drivers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, who said they were concerned about the shooting.

"We're all — all — upset because it's so close to home," a driver told reporter Glenn Counts. "We're like a family."

The Charlotte Observer reports that Rivera's death marks at least the third time in as many years in which an armed person has attacked people on CATS buses.

Neither CMPD nor CATS had released any further information about Rivera's slaying as of Sunday afternoon.

Rivera's death is one of three homicides reported by CMPD in Charlotte this weekend. In the second case, police say they found a woman apparently shot to death at a home in the 1600 block of Swan Drive in the northwestern part of the city on Sunday morning. She had not been publicly identified as of Sunday afternoon.

And on Sunday evening, police announced the third homicide investigation in as many days had begun. In that case, police say they were called to the area between Marita Drive and Interstate 485 by Mount Holly Road just before 7 p.m. and found a person in a wrecked and burning car. Officers pulled the driver from the car and tried to save their life, but paramedics later pronounced the person dead. Police did not describe the exact nature of the death but classified it as a homicide.

Police are asking anyone with information on any of the three killings to call detectives at 704-432-8477 or Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600 and leave a tip.

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Corrected: February 13, 2022 at 2:30 PM EST
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the shooting that claimed Ethan Rivera's life happened Saturday. Rivera was shot Friday night.