Passenger recounts hostage situation, knife attack on Valley Metro bus

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Victim from assault on a city bus speaks out. 6 Nov. 2017 (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News) Victim from assault on a city bus speaks out. 6 Nov. 2017 (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

A man who was slashed by a knife-wielding suspect on a Valley Metro bus said he’s grateful for the quick-thinking actions of the bus driver and an off-duty police sergeant who happened to be nearby.

Eddie Vasquez said he was riding the eastbound bus to a friend’s house Saturday when someone boarded at 51st Avenue and Cactus Road.

“From the get-go, he's yelling and screaming at the bus driver,” Vasquez said. “He kind of lifted up his shirt and pulled both [knives] out from underneath his shirt.”

Armed with two butcher knives, the suspect ordered the bus driver to continue down Cactus without stopping, Vasquez said. Police later identified the suspect as 27-year-old Humberto Edwards.

[RELATED: Phoenix PD identify suspect shot, killed by off-duty officer]

“He kept threatening the driver, like, ‘Keep driving! Keep driving! You're going to take me where I want to go or I swear to God, I'm going to stab you to death,’” Vasquez recalled.

Vasquez said it was clear the man was on drugs.

At some point during the encounter, the suspect slashed the driver on the arm, Vasquez said.

The 47-year-old was in the back of the bus near the only other passenger. He said after a few minutes, the suspect walked back and demanded his cell phone.

“He goes, ‘Do you think I'm joking?’ And that's when he lunged forward and went across the top of my forearm right here with the blade,” Vasquez said. “Then put it to my throat.”

Vasquez said the other passenger convinced the man to stop, but the maneuver left him bleeding from the neck. He would later need 11 stitches to close the cut.

When the bus reached the I-17 underpass, they hit traffic. Vasquez said the moment the vehicle came to a stop, the driver threw open the front and back doors and bolted, drawing the suspect's attention.

“He timed it just right,” Vasquez said.

He and the other passenger fled out the back door and met someone in a pickup truck.

“I told him to call the cops, call 911 and he's all, ‘What's going on?’ And I'm like, ‘There's a guy with butcher knives on the bus! He just sliced my arm and my throat and the driver as well.’ And then he just said, ‘You two stay right there, don't move,’” Vasquez recalled.

That man turned out to be an off-duty police sergeant with the Phoenix Police Department who later shot and killed the suspect.

Vasquez didn’t speak with the officer after the incident, but said if he could, he’d say “thank you.”

The bus driver is expected to be OK.

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Derek StaahlDerek Staahl is an Emmy Award-winning reporter and fill-in anchor who loves covering stories that matter most to Arizona families.

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Derek Staahl

This once-uncompromising "California guy" got his first taste of Arizona in 2015 while covering spring training baseball for his former station. The trip spanned just three days, but Derek quickly decided Phoenix should be his next address. He joined CBS 5 and 3TV four months later, in August 2015. Before packing his bags for the Valley of the Sun, Derek spent nearly four years at XETV in San Diego, where he was promoted to Weekend Anchor and Investigative Reporter. Derek chaired the Saturday and Sunday 10 p.m. newscasts, which regularly earned the station's highest ratings for a news program each week. Derek’s investigative reporting efforts into the Mayor Bob Filner scandal in 2013 sparked a "governance crisis" for the city of San Diego and was profiled by the region’s top newspaper. Derek broke into the news business at WKOW-TV in Madison, WI. He wrote, shot, edited, and presented stories during the week, and produced newscasts on the weekends. By the end of his stint, he was promoted to part-time anchor on WKOW’s sister station, WMSN. Derek was born in Los Angeles and was named the “Undergraduate Broadcast Journalism Student of the Year” in his graduating class at USC. He also played quads in the school’s famous drumline. When not reporting the news, Derek enjoys playing drumset, sand volleyball, and baseball.

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