A 33-year-old Maryland man was arrested on suspicion of murder and attempted murder Monday after authorities say he opened fire aboard a crowded Greyhound bus, killing one person and wounding five others before passengers disarmed him.
Witnesses told authorities that Anthony Devonte Williams of Capitol Heights, Md., was cursing and muttering incoherently in the moments before shots rang out on the bus, which was traveling on Interstate 5 through Kern County. At one point during the journey, Williams got into a fight with another passenger who asked him to quiet down, authorities and witnesses said.
Mark Grabban, 29, who was traveling on the bus with his girlfriend, told NBC that the man began shouting expletives before Grabban heard the sound of a gun cock, followed by eight or nine shots.
“I dove to the floor right to under the seat. I got to my girlfriend, tried to put her head down. I was just waiting for the next shot. I was assuming I was going to get shot,” he told the station. “There was a mother with two small girls, who were either 4 or 3, frozen with fear, and I was shaking, telling them to stay down.”
Lashirah Foy told KTLA-TV that she crouched down in her seat immediately when she heard the shots.
“I hugged the woman who was sitting next to me and we just ... huddled,” she told the station. “By the time I crouched down, the shots had ceased and he was already off the bus.”
A motive for the shooting was not clear and there was no indication the gunman knew anyone on the bus, authorities said. A semi-automatic handgun and several ammunition magazines were found on the bus, California Highway Patrol Sgt. Brian Pennings said.
Federal agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are working to trace the weapon.
A 51-year-old woman from Colombia was pronounced dead at the scene. A 45-year-old man and a 19-year-old woman were hospitalized in critical condition. A 39-year-old woman had major injuries, a 49-year-old man had moderate injuries and a 50-year-old woman had minor injuries, Pennings said. Updated information about their conditions was not available early Tuesday.
The driver of the bus pulled onto the shoulder of the freeway immediately after the shooting. Passengers led Williams off the vehicle, and the driver continued to the next freeway exit, at Grapevine Road, while first aid was performed on those who had been injured, Pennings said.
The bus, which had 43 people on board, including the driver and two children, left Los Angeles about 11:30 p.m. Sunday and was scheduled to make stops in the cities of Avenal and Oakland before ending its route in San Francisco about 7:20 a.m. Monday.
Some passengers continued their journey to the Bay Area via another Greyhound bus Monday, while others opted for other transportation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.