What to Know
- Armed man boards DART bus, orders driver to follow his directions
- Man shoots out of bus windows at police, injuring two officers
- Man wanted for questioning in girlfriend's death in San Antonio
The man who hijacked a Dallas-area transit bus Sunday and fired at police officers, wounding two, was wanted for questioning in connection with an aggravated assault and his girlfriend's slaying in San Antonio earlier this month, police say.
Ramon Thomas Villagomez, 31, boarded a DART bus on Buckingham Road in Richardson at about 11 a.m. Sunday and, while armed with a gun, ordered the driver to drive through Garland, Dallas, Rowlett and Rockwall before turning the bus back toward Rowlett.
While panic buttons are installed on Dallas city buses, the driver's family told NBC 5 they believe someone else notified the police that the bus was in trouble.
Soon after, police officers from multiple agencies, including Dallas Area Rapid Transit and Garland, tried to stop the bus. The hijacker fired on police while reportedly reassuring the lone female passenger and driver that he would not hurt either of them.
"There was an immediate threat and danger to people on the bus, that's why we were pursuing this vehicle. You could not ask for a worse situation," said Lt. Pedro Barineau, with the Garland Police Department. "You have a situation where somebody has taken driver of a bus hostage, is shooting at the police as we are pursuing him and there's people around all over the road."
As the chase continued, Villagomez continued to shoot out the windows of the bus at officers. In Rockwall, police were able to successfully deploy spike strips which soon brought the bus to a halt near Liberty Grove Road and the President George Bush Turnpike.
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Villagomez got then got out of the bus with his weapon in hand and was shot and "incapacitated," police said. He was taken to a local hospital, where he died.
During the chase a DART officer was shot in the leg and a Garland officer was hit in the neck when a round went through the front windshield of his squad car, police said. Both officers are expected to be OK.
The passenger and the bus driver were uninjured.
The family of the bus driver, who spoke to NBC 5 off camera on Sunday, said the gunman initially told the driver to stay on his regular route before later giving him turn-by-turn directions. It was not clear to the driver if the gunman had a planned route.
Kenneth Day, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1338, said the driver must have been under a tremendous amount of stress.
“When he got up this morning, I’m sure he felt like he was going out to face this virus. He was already fearful when he got up this morning to go to work. I’m sure he was afraid, but he did not expect this was going to happen,” Day said.
The driver’s family said the 65-year-old man is shaken up, but physically unharmed.
During the investigation, officials learned Villagomez was a suspect in his girlfriend's slaying in San Antonio and in the aggravated assault of another relative in Brazoria County.
San Antonio police said Villagomez was wanted for questioning in the death of 41-year-old Catherine Menendez but that a warrant had not been issued for his arrest in her death. San Antonio police said the woman was found dead April 7 from several apparent stab wounds after officers responded to a welfare check at a home.