John Briggs told Seattle police he initially refused when a masked man jammed a handgun into the back of his head and demanded his cellphone.
Briggs was aboard the King County Metro RapidRide C Line bus in downtown Seattle when the armed man got on board at Third Avenue and Pike Street around 6 p.m. Monday. Passengers said the man had a ski mask partially covering his face, according to a police report.
Once aboard, the man approached two passengers and demanded their phones at gunpoint.
After Briggs initially refused the gunman’s demand, the armed man pushed the handgun harder into his head and said, “don’t make this harder.” Briggs then handed over his phone, according to a police report.
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With Briggs’ phone in hand, the armed man walked away. It was then that Briggs and other passengers tackled the man and held him down for police while the bus was in West Seattle, the report said.
The suspected robber, identified by police as Trevonnte Brown, 19, was ordered held Tuesday in lieu of $350,000 bail. A second court appearance is scheduled for Monday.
Brown waived his appearance at Tuesday’s first court hearing at the King County Jail.
Trina Clay, who identified herself as Brown’s mother, defended her son to reporters outside the courtroom
“I think he’s probably realizing now he’s got himself in a big jam. That’s still my baby,” Clay told KIRO 7. “He’s not ready for jail. He’s not ready for prison.”
Earlier this month, Brown was cited for driving without insurance, driving at night without lights and failing to wear his seat belt, according to court records.
It’s unclear how the man was able to board a Metro bus without raising the suspicions of the driver. King County Metro spokesman Jeff Switzer said they are investigating.
Switzer said that bus operators have reported 45 assaults on passengers inside buses between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30. He said there were 27 during the same period last year.
The incident was perhaps the most frightening aboard a Metro bus since a man shot a driver in August.
Martin Anwar Duckworth, 31, described as a street criminal with a history of drug offenses and mental-health problems, shot DeLoy Dupuis on Aug. 12 in the 1300 block of Third Avenue in downtown Seattle.
Duckworth then tried to carjack a delivery truck and a car before boarding a second bus and raising his gun and pointing it at responding officers. Police fired several rounds, fatally wounding Duckworth.
A man named Joshua emailed Times news partner WestSeattleBlog.com with this account of one man’s attempt to subdue the armed man in Monday’s incident:
“First thing he did was grab the arm holding the revolver and managed to get his finger in” to where he could stop the trigger from being pulled. “We were sitting on (the armed man) trying to restrain him,” and it seemed like five minutes before police arrived, he said.
After Brown was placed in the squad car, he screamed and kicked out the divider that separated the back seat from the front of the vehicle, police said. He managed to partially climb into the front of the car, police said.
Police, in their report, said that Brown “was very agitated and belligerent toward officers and the other bus passengers” but did not appear to be intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
Seattle police spokesman Mark Jamieson said there has been a spike in cellphone robberies on buses, light-rail trains and near transit centers across King County.
“Sometimes suspects will follow somebody from a bus or a light-rail train and rob them on the street,” Jamieson said. “This is not just isolated to one particular neighborhood in Seattle.”
Jamieson said that his department is working closely with other agencies to address the rise in robberies of cellphones and other electronics.
“We don’t want to tell people not to use their phones, but just be aware of your surroundings, be smart,” he said. “Don’t be so engrossed you lose all perspective and you fail to notice what’s around you. Be assertive, walk with a purpose.
Have some confidence.”
Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @SeattleSullivan.