A 17-year-old street gang member, wounded in the face and shoulder during a battle with two rival gang members on a crowded RTD bus Friday, grabbed one of his assailants as he fell and hung onto him until police arrived, investigators said.
The wounded youth, rushed to Martin Luther King Memorial Hospital after the 1:30 p.m. shooting, was reported in stable condition.
Southeast Division Police Officer Dale Heatherington said two or three shots were fired during the melee and it was a matter of luck that no one else on the standing-room-only bus was hit.
The Line 51 bus was traveling on Avalon Boulevard when two gang members boarded, police said, and recognized a member of a rival gang from the color of shoestrings he wore.
Heatherington said a quarrel started, blows were exchanged and one of the gang members yelled to his companion: "Get him!"
At that, the officer said, the second youth pulled a handgun and opened fire. The bus stopped at 88th Street, where the gunman, along with nearly all of the passengers, scrambled off the bus.
Heatherington said the bus driver sounded a special alarm summoning police, while the wounded youth pulled the other assailant down to the floor and held him until police arrived about two minutes later. The alleged assailant, also 17, was held for questioning.
An RTD spokesman said he had no figures on the number of shootings on buses so far this year, but there were 76 reported assaults with deadly weapons and two murders on buses last year.