PORTLAND – A TriMet bus driver attacked in St. Johns Thursday says she was struck about 15 times after telling a passenger he was 50 cents short on his fare.
Pamela Thompson was driving a Line 4 bus at North Richmond Avenue and North Syracuse Street around 11 p.m. when she told a passenger he had not paid the correct fare, according to Roberta Altstadt, spokeswoman for TriMet.
The suspect, identified as 39-year-old Daemon Bowman, appeared in court Monday.
Bowman allegedly yelled at Thompson and punched her in the face repeatedly, Altstadt said. The operator eventually fought off the suspect, who fled on foot.
On Monday, Thompson released a statement forgiving her attacker and thanking the community for its support.
“I would like to address my attacker,” Thompson wrote. “I stand before you offering forgiveness for the brutality you exhibited on me and that fateful night. We have all made poor decisions at some time in our lives, myself included; but just as the LORD has forgiven me for those poor decisions in my life, I extend the same to you, knowing that it is through forgiveness we are truly free to heal.”
Thompson also commended TriMet for recent security upgrades, but said continued improvements were needed to protect operators.
“It is necessary to continue your efforts to place the highest priority on the safety and welfare of your front-line employees,” she said.
In April, Thompson talked to KGW about TriMet attacks, recounting how she had been spit on twice.
“I am kind of surprised at how the general public behaves,” Thompson said during that interview.
In 2012, 19 incidents involving TriMet drivers were recorded.
“Our system needs to be scrutinized in every detail so that not only our drivers, but also all of our passengers feel safe when riding TriMet,” Thompson said Monday.