Crime & Courts

Man steals bus, burns rubber in chase

As police closed in Friday morning, a failed carjacking suspect in Kansas City, Kan., grabbed the first available vehicle to make his escape.

It happened to be a 30-foot-long ATA Metro bus. He cleared out the passengers and got the bus going, but apparently didn't take off the parking brake.

Soon the tires caught fire, and then the whole bus was ablaze, billowing smoke as it roared down streets with a dozen or so police cars in front and in pursuit.

After a lengthy chase, the man finally pulled over.

"How good is that?" asked Kansas City, Kan., Police Capt. John Cosgrove, pointing to a sign next to where the charred bus sat on its roasted rims.

The sign: "Metro Bus Stop."

Stephen Donnell, 46, faces charges of aggravated burglary, robbery and eluding a police officer. He was being held in lieu of $25,000 bond.

The incident began about 10:30 a.m. when officers responded to an attempted carjacking at a motel in the 4800 block of State Avenue.

A few minutes later, two blocks away, a man police believed to be the carjacker climbed aboard Metro bus S133, which had just completed the 106 Quindaro route. He pulled Monique Madison out of the driver's seat.

"Get off, I'm taking the bus," he told her, Madison said as she recounted the ordeal.

To the five or six passengers, including one with a baby, he said, "You can stay or get off."

"Get off!" Madison, a six-year veteran, ordered the group.

They got off. The man climbed into the driver's seat. But after seeing all the gadgets and controls, he decided he had no clue how to drive a bus.

"Get back up here," he told the driver.

"No, but give me my purse," she fired back.

He told her she could have her purse — but only if she drove him somewhere.

She didn't want the purse that badly.

Give the fugitive credit. He got the bus going. And began his first solo drive under the eyes of many observers — police officers, county deputies and highway patrol officers.

The chase went down I-70, major streets and narrow residential streets. Police said the man intentionally struck at least three parked vehicles. Cosgrove said a couple of police cars ran in front to sort of clear the way for the burning bus.

Finally, while westbound on Parallel Avenue, the man succumbed.

"The suspect couldn't take the smoke," Cosgrove said.

The bus rolled to a halt at 34th Street and Parallel Parkway and police arrested the suspect.

Madison got her purse back. Unburned.

"It was in a metal cabinet," she said.