D.C. Woman to Group of Juveniles Who Reportedly Dragged Her Off a City Bus After Reprimanding Them for Using Foul Language: ‘I Don’t Fear Nobody But God’

After being assaulted by young people on a bus in Washington D. C., a woman speaks out about her ordeal and the need for officials to invest more in public safety. The victim hopes that talking about her trauma will open the eyes of those who are blind to the rise of crime in her city.

D.C. Woman to Group of Juveniles Who Reportedly Dragged Her Off a City Bus After Reprimanding Them for Using Foul Language: 'I Don't Fear Nobody But God'
Video captures D.C. grandmother Kyla Thurston being dragged off public bus (Video Screengrab)

On Monday, Oct. 17, Kyla Thurston, 42, was allegedly attacked while riding the W4 bus route, which stretches from the Deanwood Metro station to the Anacostia station, reportedly by six juveniles and two adults. It is alleged, according to FOX 5, that she gave her seat to a woman with her small children and later asked the students on the bus to stop using profane language.

Thurston said she hopes no one goes through what she did on that day.

“I wouldn’t want, you know, no one else to have to go through this – it’s emotional just thinking about it.”

A witness said the youth retaliated after the reprimand, violently shoving her out the rear door of the bus after a stop. Ages of the attackers ranged from teenagers to adults.

“At that point, the kids became unruly. They started being disrespectful, like saying things to me,” said Thurston. “Then next thing you know, there were objects being thrown at me, and I was just like, ‘Thank You, Lord,’ because throughout the whole incident the only thing I could recall was the kids hitting me and kicking me – and I had no defense.”

The children were identified when detectives canvased several schools on the bus route and worked with administrators to assist with their investigation. The investigators used video from bus cameras to help identify those involved in the incident.

On Friday, Oct. 21, two persons were arrested in connection to the assault, WMATA General Manager Randy Clarke stated. The two suspects are 27-year-old Emoni Hubbard of Southeast D.C. and 35-year-old Terry Barnes of Wilson, North Carolina.

Clarke said, “I appreciate the quick work of MTPD in arresting the two adults involved in this reprehensible and unacceptable act on a Metrobus earlier this week.”

“I personally called the victim to apologize for what happened,” she said.  “This type of behavior cannot be tolerated on Metro or anywhere. We need the help of partners, guardians, parents, schools, and community leaders to prevent this type of behavior.”

The two men appeared in court on Monday, Oct. 24, and Hubbard was charged by citation. Hubbard was also given a future court date. Barnes has prior convictions in Wilson County for assault, assault on a female, and assault inflicting serious bodily injury.

While six juveniles have been identified as being a part of the attack, profile information is being withheld because of their ages.

Despite being violated, she said the bus driver did not help her or stop them from hurting her.

Thurston complained, “The bus driver made no attempt to stop the bus. He didn’t alert local authorities or anything to my defense. Even after I’m yelling at the top of my lungs, ‘Stop the bus – let me off the bus,’ the bus driver never stopped.”

The Washington Post said the bus driver might be in trouble for violating safety protocol when he didn’t stop the kids from attacking Thurston.

According to Metro spokesman Ian Jannetta, the bus driver in this incident did not follow proper training and, as a result, violated protocol.

While Jannetta did not specify what protocol was broken, bus operators are prohibited by Metro to intervene during attacks or onboard disturbances (a policy to protect them from getting hurt). They are also required to pull their vehicle over, stop and notify someone at base about the altercation.

In a statement, the transit official said, “Appropriate administrative action will be taken” against the bus operator.

As precautionary measures for other bus drivers, transit officials distributed a bulletin to workers to remind them about safety protocols for onboard disturbances. Also, the official said, Metro Transit Police have increased patrol presence along the W4 route, including on buses and at stations.

Representatives of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 also released a statement encouraging their members to respect and adhere to the Metro’s policy, cautioning them to not intervene during disturbances, because to do so may make them a “target” and lead to operators facing an assault.

“We strongly support this policy and policies like these because they are intended to keep our operators out of harm’s way,” the union statement said. “Our bus operators are not law enforcement officers and they shouldn’t have to act like them. Our members are not social workers. Our members aren’t trained to fight or break up fights. Our members aren’t trained to resolve the social issues that cause this violence.”

Thurston hopes the transit agency creates some kind of policy to help passengers that may be in distress. One of her suggestions is to limit the number of youths that can get on a bus at a time.

Since the video of her attack has gone viral, Thurston said she is grateful that the offense was captured on footage and released to the public.

“Watching the video myself personally, it startled me – and I’m still startled about it,” she said. “I didn’t want to come forth at first. I don’t fear nobody but the Lord,” she said, before vowing to continue to ride the bus. “I’m going to continue riding Metro because – like I said – I don’t fear nobody but God.”

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