Three men stabbed on TriMet bus remain in the hospital - KPTV - FOX 12

Three men stabbed on TriMet bus remain in the hospital

Posted: Updated: Oct 4, 2012 03:25 PM

A man who police said stabbed a TriMet bus driver and two passengers is facing assault charges after a late-night attack in Oregon City.

The three victims remained in the hospital Thursday.

Oregon City Police said Leonard James and Richard Dickson Jr. are still at Oregon Health & Science University being treated for stab wounds.

James was stabbed in the stomach, while police said Dickson was stabbed in the chest, back and leg. They are not projected to be released until this weekend.

James was driving the bus.

Jeremy Thompson was stabbed multiple times in his back and once on the arm and he is still at Emanuel. Officers believe he could be released this weekend, as well.

It happened just before 11 p.m. Tuesday on the 33 Route on Molalla Avenue near Clairmont Way.

Oregon City Police said 19-year-old Austin Vanhagen yelled racial slurs while on the bus, but it wasn't clear if the slurs were directed at the bus driver, who is black, or some passengers who were on the bus.

"I don't have the words to even comprehend what happened last night," said Anita Jordan, Vanhagen's mother.

"I didn't raise him that way," she told Fox 12. "I have been on my knees praying for (the victims and their families). I can't imagine what they're going through."

Jordan said her son was visiting Oregon City from California, and was out seeing friends last night.

Officers said a fight first broke out between Vanhagen and another passenger as they were getting off the bus, but Vanhagen was able to force his way back on and fight with other passengers, as well as the bus driver.

One passenger told FOX 12 that Vanhagen appeared to be drunk and couldn't even walk when he got on the bus. The suspect threatened him and punched him in the face before he attacked the bus driver.

"After he punches me, three guys get off the seat and restrain him. And then he pulls out a knife," said John Olechea. "I heard fists going, then the knife pulled out. I didn't see the knife. I just heard somebody scream."

Three passengers tackled Vanhagen after he stabbed the bus driver in the stomach, police said. While wrestling him to the ground, two passengers were stabbed and one was bitten, they added.

"One passenger grabbed the suspect's arm, and I grabbed the other one and pinned it on guardrail on bus," said victim Andrew Crombie, who was bitten by the suspect. "I wanted to make sure he didn't use the knife anymore, I told him to drop it."

Crombie says he and the other passenger held Vanhagen down until officers arrived.

Officers had to use a stun gun to bring Vanhagen under control, police said. He was then taken into custody.

"The suspect kept saying, 'I don't have anything to lose, I don't have anything to lose.' From my perspective he seemed like he was in a desperate place," said Crombie.

The three stabbing victims were all conscious and breathing when medics took them to Portland area hospitals.

"My heart breaks for them," Anita Jordan said. "None of this should have happened."

TriMet handed over surveillance video of the attacks to Oregon City Police to help in the investigation.

In a statement, TriMet said in part, "We know the entire TriMet family shares their concern for the operator's welfare and for a speedy recovery. We also share our concern for the welfare of the passengers that were also wounded in the assault."

Crombie says he has known the driver since high school, and believes he is extremely well-loved in the community.

"My heart goes out to him and his family, I'm very grateful to for all that he did to keep passengers safe" said Crombie. 

Copyright 2012 KPTV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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