Man hailed a hero for stopping attack on Tulsa bus driver

TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa Transit employees said a man saved a bus driver’s life during a brutal attack on Saturday. Officials at Tulsa Transit said it’s the worst attack that’s ever happened to one of their drivers.

FOX23 spoke to the man Tulsa Transit is calling a hero for stepping up to help. He said it’s something everyone should do to help their community.

Gary Brooks was working at a flea market near East Admiral Place and South Mingo Road around noon on Saturday when he saw a bus slow down and hit a pole. He said he saw a man on the bus beating the driver.

“When I ran across and get closer, I see there was a guy standing there just punching the driver in his face and the driver fell,” said Brooks. “Just blood all over his face and his eye was swelling.”

Brooks ran over and pried the back door of the bus open, and managed to hold the attacker down until police got there.

“He said the n-word. He said ‘If you come in here I’m gonna kill you’ so I said no, you have to kill me because that guy is bleeding too much,” said Brooks.

Tulsa Transit said they have no idea why the driver was attacked. They said the man had said the driver, who was on his usual route, was going the wrong way.

There were 15 passengers on the bus, two of which were also injured in the attack. Officials with Tulsa Transit said they’ve seen surveillance footage, but said it’s too graphic for people to see.

“I would say it’s one of the worst videos I think I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been in public transportation for 27 years,” said Scott Marr with Tulsa Transit.

“What if the community didn’t have the bus services? How would these people get around? This is something that we do in a way to give back to community,” said Valerie Courchesne with Tulsa Transit. “These drivers feel like they give back every day. With things that they go through, and things that are said, and name calling ... enough is enough.”

Tulsa Transit said the bus driver who was attacked is out of hospital and at home recovering.

Police arrested Douglas Barnes for the attack. He’s previously served time for assault and battery in 2018. He’s now facing charges of aggravated assault and battery.

Tulsa Transit said Gary is a hero, but Gary said he was just in the right place at the right time.

“I don’t know where I got the strength, because that guy is bigger than me,” said Gary. “So I think God gave me the strength.”

There are around 200 Tulsa Transit employees, and they’ve all been affected and are upset over the attack. Officials said they’re giving other drivers training for how to de-escalate situations so hopefully something like this wont happen again. They’re also calling on the community to do better and treat their drivers with respect.