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Partnership with Kzoo County sheriff ended months before metro shooting due to staffing shortages

The partnership would've ensured there was a deputy on site at the metro station
Posted at 5:33 PM, Nov 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-30 17:33:57-05

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Some boarded-up windows shattered by bullets are only lingering signs of a violent Saturday morning at the Kalamazoo Metro Transit station.

A gunman, now identified as 54-year-old Anthony Oliver, opened fire on board one of the buses around 9:15 a.m., injuring three people before being shot and killed by responding officers. Those three victims are expected to survive.

READ MORE: Suspect killed in Kalamazoo after 3 are shot in bus at Transit Center

Speaking to FOX 17 off camera, Kalamazoo Metro Transit Executive Director Sean McBride noted that transit has had partnerships in the past with local law enforcement to provide extra security, but both fell through due to staffing shortages, according to McBride.

KDPS confirmed that their partnership with transit ended in 2018. Shortly after, transit partnered with the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office to provide deputies on site, but that partnership ended only a few months ago.

McBride says the bus where the violence happened is now repaired and back in circulation making its regular routes and stops.

On Monday, representatives from the Amalgamated Transit Union visited Kalamazoo to show support for fellow union workers and local riders.

“Going forward, what are we going to do with the members?” said the union’s International President John Costa. “Their concerns are of health and stress. Mental health is a big concern.”

READ MORE: 'It still doesn’t feel real': Kalamazoo bus shooting survivor describes chaos as man opened fire

Costa says he’d also like to see some return to a partnership with local law enforcement in the new future.

“I think law enforcement being out here, having a presence, making the community feel safe that it’s okay to get on our buses and continue to ride and they’re safe. That’s what I think needs to happen,” he said.

Costa noted an incident last month in San Jose, California, where nine transit workers were shot and killed by a gunman who then took his own life. The ATU is encouraging federal and state lawmakers to utilize funding from the newly passed infrastructure bill on bolstered programs for driver and rider mental health, and coping in the event of traumatic situations like Saturday.

“Hearing an active shooter here on Saturday brought back some flashbacks of concerns,” he said. “My concern is, where are we with my members' help? Do we have any counseling in place?”

A joint press conference by local law enforcement and MSP, who is primarily handling the case, is scheduled for 10 a.m. tomorrow.

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