A distraught woman aboard an RTD bus brandished a handgun, shot another passenger and took at least 19 people hostage in Beverly Hills late Wednesday, police said.
After the shooting, the woman barricaded herself on the bus while the other passengers left--some running, some crawling and some walking slowly, a witness said.
The bus was seized at 10:15 p.m. on Santa Monica Boulevard between Alta and Arden drives, said a spokeswoman for the Southern California Rapid Transit District.
The condition of the shooting victim, a man, was not immediately known. A witness said the woman sat silently with the gun in her lap as the passengers filed out.
Francis Cleary, 24, a waiter who was aboard the bus, said the woman "suddenly started yelling. At first she yelled, 'There is a Nazi on the bus.' Then she started yelling, 'Hitler, Himmler.' "
Cleary said the woman then made negative comments about Jews and blacks.
"Then she started talking in German," he said.
Cleary said he then saw that she was "holding a large gun and looking at somebody on the seat across the aisle. I crouched down, then I heard three shots. The bus driver pulled over to the curb, opened the doors and yelled 'Everybody out!' "
By this time, Cleary said, "she had put the gun back in her bag in her lap." He said he left the bus through the front door, walking past the woman "and it was just like she had a temper tantrum and it was all over."
Several other passengers, he said, remained on the bus for a while before gradually leaving.
A sheriff's special weapons team was at the scene to try to persuade the woman to surrender.
Officers said they did not want to storm the bus even though it had been evacuated because the shooting victim lay directly in their path, and they did not want to risk further injury to that person.
Surrounding streets were closed to traffic as officers using a bullhorn negotiated with the woman. Investigators said they knew of no motive for the hijacking, and the armed woman made no demands.
Cleary said the woman had short red hair. He described her as "about 40, she was oddly dressed, very mismatched, like a bag lady."