Fatal Shooting of Bus Driver Linked to Massacre Plot; Two Youths Held

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United Press International

Police said Monday that two teen-agers arrested on suspicion of staging an assault on a city bus that left the driver dead and four passengers wounded originally planned to hijack the vehicle and murder all 21 people aboard.

The foiled massacre plot was disclosed in confessions made by the two suspects, 15 and 17 years old, said Oakland police homicide Lt. Jim Hahn.

The names of the suspects, who police said rode home on another city bus after the shooting, were not released. They were arraigned on murder charges Monday.


The teen-agers were family friends of two previous suspects, David Palmer, 29, and his brother Donald, 25, who were released Monday.

The Palmers, suspected of a revenge motive, were arrested shortly after the 1:30 a.m. Friday shootings. Their mother, Ellen Palmer, 52, was killed Thursdayin an accident with an AC Transit bus.

David and Donald, two of her 12 children, had been suspected because of loud threats they made against the transit agency, police said.

Decision to Avenge

The two teen-agers overheard the angry words, Hahn said, and decided to avenge the woman’s death for their friends.

“The motive was that of retaliation against AC,” Hahn said. “They decided on their own to initiate this action.”

Hahn said, “There’s not enough evidence that the Palmers got them (the suspects) to do it,” Hahn said, explaining why the brothers were freed.


“My mother did not raise her children to be vengeful,”David Palmer said after his release.

Hahn said the ambush, which left driver Billy (B.J.) Givens dead and four passengers wounded, was originally planned to be a mass murder that would rank with the worst in U.S. history.

The teen-agers, Hahn said,had planned to hijack the bus, drive it to a remote area and kill the driver “and all the witnesses,” which would have meant 20 passengers.

They were among four people who were waiting for a bus early Friday only a few blocks from where Ellen Palmer the previous day had run a red light, causing the accident that killed her.

The bus pulled up and one of the four--police say it was the 17-year-old in custody--boarded and shot Givens at point-blank range with a .22-caliber semiautomatic rifle. At that point, the assailants apparently panicked and abandoned the hijack scheme.

After spraying the aisle with bullets, the two fled. After running for some distance, they eventually boarded another bus.

Hiding in Attic

The two were arrested Sunday night after they were found hiding in the attic of a house on 78th Avenue, where the weapon was recovered. Investigatorswere led to the house by an informant.


Hahn said the teen-agers could be tried as adults “because of the seriousness of the offense, the premeditation that was involved and the callousness with which the plan was carried out.”

Givens, 43, a 20-year veteran driver, was the third AC driver killed on duty and the first since 1981. He leaves a wife and two daughters. A memorial service will be held Friday in Oakland.