FRESNO — Passengers on a Greyhound bus were dozing off after a food stop when a man armed with scissors charged the bus driver and slashed his throat.
Two passengers were killed and dozens were injured as the bus swerved into a cotton field, flipped on its side and tossed bodies on top of each other and out the windshield.
The suspect, Arturo Martinez, 27, was held Tuesday in the Fresno County Jail on two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. Authorities said they did not know of any motive.
Witnesses said Martinez appeared out of nowhere Monday night as the San Francisco-bound coach sped north on Interstate 5 along the desolate west side of the state’s farm belt.
“The people in the front, when they saw, they tried to stop the guy, but he already had the driver,” said Alfredo Saravia, who was dozing when the assailant hustled past. “Everything happened in seconds.”
Screams filled the air as the bus swerved off the road and overturned. When it came to a rest, screams turned to moans in the chaotic wreckage.
“People were falling onto people,” said Shanna, a 21-year-old college student from Washington, D.C., who refused to give her last name because she was skipping classes. “You had to walk over people to get out.”
Many of the injured were unconscious. Some of those who could get to safety helped others. Saravia, who had a bruised forehead and injuries to his left side, said a female passenger next to him was dead, but he hauled another woman out through the shattered windshield.
As survivors gathered in the dark field, there was a sense of panic that the assailant was loose.
Police later found him hiding among the cotton.