PORTLAND -- The bus driver stabbed Wednesday afternoon told KGW his attacker's knife narrowly missed vital organs and the ordeal was terrifying.
The driver was stabbed two or three times as he walked near the TriMet station at Southeast 94th Avenue and Southeast Foster Road Wednesday afternoon. He described the attack to KGW Thursday, lifting his shirt to show the wounds to his shoulder and abdomen. (See inset photos above.)
He said the knife got stuck in a back brace that he was wearing and then he managed to wrestle it away from his attacker. After the suspect fled, another driver arrived and helped the victim get back to his bus, where they called 911 together.
Amalgamated Transit Union President Bruce Hansen said the injured driver told him he recognized his attacker as a man who frequently rides the TriMet system. He said the suspect got angry because he wanted to use TriMet's private restroom facility and the driver told him it was only for employees.
Then the man yelled racial slurs at the driver, Hansen said, and stabbed him with a small knife.
Officers and medical personnel arrived quickly and took the victim to Oregon Health & Science University with injuries that were not life-threatening. His name has not yet been released but officials confirmed that he was able to leave the hospital to recover at home Thursday.
"Our thoughts and concerns are with the operator," said TriMet spokeswoman Roberta Altstadt.
Witnesses said the suspect fled the area westbound on Foster Road. He was described as a white man in his mid-30s, with brown hair and tattoos on his neck. He was wearing black pants and a green T-shirt, Simpson said.
The TriMet bus drivers' union released a statement Thursday which said it wanted to help circulate a detailed description of the attacker, hoping it would lead to his capture. "He frequently rides the TriMet system, especially lines 19, 71 and 72 around the 82nd and Duke area," the union said. "His distinguishing marks include a checkerboard tattoo around his neck. He may have other tattoo’s but the one around his neck is the most distinctive."
A $1,000 reward was also offered by TriMet Thursday, for any clues that lead to the arrest of the stabber.
The attacker appeared to be a transient, according to TriMet officials, and may frequent the homeless camps set up along I-205. People living in the area have reported many problems related to transients, TriMet officials said. They planned to address the issue with the Oregon Department of Transportation.
Transit police were assisting Portland officers with the investigation and patrols were increased in the area Wednesday night.
The TriMet driver was identified Thursday afternoon as 40-year-old Fadi Hamad.
In April, a different TriMet driver was stabbed just a few blocks away. Driver Brian Nixon said he thinks his attacker was also a transient.
Nixon was stabbed twice in his leg as he came out of a portable toilet set up by TriMet for drivers in Southeast Portland. Police circulated a sketch of the suspect and TriMet offered a reward for his capture, but no arrests have been made.
The descriptions indicate that the suspects in the two recent stabbings were not the same person.