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Police looking for person who shot MetroBus driver take person into custody

Niara Savage
St. Louis Public Radio
MetroBus driver Jonathan Cobb's girlfriend, Keylla Johnson, on Monday asked people to come forward with information about a shooting that left Cobb critically injured.

Updated at 8:55 p.m. Dec. 6 with additional information

A MetroBus operator shot while driving a bus in Beverly Hills late Friday remained in critical condition Monday and was “fighting for his life,” police said.

Jonathan Cobb, 33, was driving his route in the 3400 block of Lucas and Hunt Road in north St. Louis County just after 7 p.m. Friday when someone outside the bus fired a weapon at a side window, said Lt. Tim Burger, deputy commander of the Major Case Squad.

The bullet struck Cobb in the head, Burger said at a Monday afternoon press conference. A few hours later, members of the Major Case Squad took a man into custody after they saw him driving a maroon-colored Chrysler PT Cruiser seen on surveillance footage near the scene of the shooting.

That came after Cobb’s girlfriend, Keylla Johnson, urged anyone with information about the shooting to contact police. “Please St. Louis,” she said. “Let’s find out who [did] it.”

The couple has 1-year-old twin girls.

About 10 minutes before Cobb was shot, someone fired at another MetroBus driver near North Hanley and Airport roads in Berkeley, Missouri, he said.

A bullet hit the driver’s side of that bus but missed the driver. Flying debris injured a passenger aboard the bus, Burger said.

He said authorities are trying to determine if the two shootings are connected.

Burger said the Chrysler PT Cruiser also was seen on footage near the earlier shooting. He said 20 investigators are working on dozens of leads to solve the case.

Taulby Roach, president and CEO of Bi-State Development, which operates MetroBus and MetroLink, said the company will hire 10 “transit security specialists” dedicated to protecting drivers on their routes.

“I urge the public to support our front-line operators,” Roach said. “These are the folks who get people to the grocery stores, to the hospitals, to the fundamental economics of St. Louis. We need them, and our operators need your support.”

Cobb was operating the bus on the 64 Lucas-Hunt route, which runs between Rock Road Transit Center in north St. Louis County and Riverview-Hall Transit Center in north St. Louis, when someone fired the shot.

The incident did not involve any of the patrons, Bi-State officials said. Over the weekend, the company made counselors available to its employees.

“We are deeply saddened that on Friday evening, one of our MetroBus operators was a victim of senseless gun violence,” Roach said in a statement after the shooting. “We have made great strides in creating a safer, more secure Metro Transit system, but we still have work to do.”

In recent years, Metro Transit has identified security as a key problem within the regional transportation system — and pledged to develop a strategy to rebuild the community’s trust. The company also is working more closely with law enforcement.

Bi-State Development also announced that it would invest in operator shields on new buses, cameras and communications systems.

“We are committed to any extra methods to support the safety of our operators,” Rose Windmiller, chair of the Bi-State Development Board of Commissioners, said in a statement.

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Kate Grumke covers the environment, climate and agriculture for St. Louis Public Radio and Harvest Public Media.