A downtown Berkeley bank robbery ended Friday with the arrest of the dye-smeared suspect aboard a packed AC Transit bus in rush hour traffic.
The robbery at Washington Mutual at 2150 Shattuck Ave. was reported at 5:58 p.m. Friday.
According to police, the suspect fled with the cash bag into the downtown Berkeley BART Station rotunda in front of the bank.
Before he could board a train, though, the bag’s ink pack exploded, staining his hands and clothes with red and releasing fumes into the underground station.
About half a dozen people were treated at the station for inhaling the fumes, according to police.
The man abandoned the money and ran upstairs from the station. Back at the street, he then opted for an AC Transit bus as a get-away vehicle.
As the crowded 40 L bus made its way through rush-hour traffic south on Shattuck Avenue, then east, and then south again on Telegraph Avenue, the bus driver noticed that she had a special passenger aboard, one strangely decorated with red paint. She had heard an announcement about the bank robbery broadcast moments earlier.
The bus driver, who wished to remain anonymous, alerted police that she was carrying the possible suspect and dozens of police cars sped towards Telegraph Avenue to intercept her bus.
At the corner of Telegraph and Russell Street, police cars surrounded bus number 3128 in the early dusk light. Sgt. Kevin Schofield jumped aboard the bus and took the seated man off, ordering all other passengers to remain aboard.
“The bus was packed, which presents a huge hazard,” Schofield said. “Knowing that a bank robbery is on a bus full of people is definitely worrisome. We knew we had to get him off the bus right away.”
Schofield said that when he stepped on the bus, the suspect was calmly sitting down and complied when told to stand and leave the bus. The man had no weapon, Schofield said.
Police arrested the man, Darius Shadzad, 34, on charges of bank robbery.
As the passengers debarked and walked across Russell Street to an awaiting bus to take them the remainder of their journey, they passed the bus driver on the sidewalk giving her account to police.
A man yelled out, “Thank you miss bus driver,” and many of the other passengers joined in a round of applause.