Teen arrested for using bear spray to attack bus passenger, driver: Winnipeg police

(CTV News file image of a Winnipeg Transit bus.)

The Winnipeg Police Service has arrested a 17-year-old male after investigators allege he used bear spray to attack people on a bus.

Police said on June 26 a bus driver and passenger were assaulted with bear spray on a bus travelling south on Main Street around 10:30 p.m.

Investigators said the suspect started an argument with an unknown woman and the driver stopped the bus to defuse the situation.

When the driver got involved, police said the suspect sprayed both of them with bear spray.

Police said the male then kicked and broke the doors at the front of the bus and escaped.

Both people were treated for bear spray exposure.

Then around 11 p.m., police said they received another report of a male using bear spray on another bus, but he was also able to get away.

Around midnight, police said they found the suspect in the 200 block of Portage and Main and arrested him.

He was found with five grams of cocaine, which has a street value of around $400.

The teen was charged with two counts of assault with a weapon, mischief under $5,000, possessing a scheduled substance, and three counts of failing to comply with a release order.

He remains in custody and the charges against him have not been proven in court.

Const. Dani McKinnon said bear spray incidents are not new, but transit assaults are becoming more common.

"These attacks are seemingly quite random. Often the assaults will occur between people that are actual acquaintances and perhaps have some type of pre-existing negative connection with each other," said McKinnon.

She added police and transit work closely with each other to ensure safety for drivers and passengers on a bus.

A spokesperson for Winnipeg Transit said safety and security is a top priority on buses.

They said transit continues to invest in safety initiatives such as operator training, safety shields, video and audio surveillance, and inspector initiatives.

"We are also presently exploring the development of a Mentorship Program for employees to support other (newer) employees," the spokesperson said.

They added the city has spent $9.6 million on transit safety since 2017.