DART board chairman says transit system has perception problem




Posted on February 9, 2012 at 9:03 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 9 at 11:55 PM

DALLAS - There is new information on Tuesday's DART train station shooting in Richardson.

The suspect did not kill himself inside a warehouse near Arapaho Road, as first thought. Cory Jones, 27, was apparently shot by one of the officers pursuing him on Tuesday. The medical examiner ruled it a homicide Thursday.

Investigators tell News 8 the incident started when Jones became upset after he wasn't allowed to use an invalid pass. They say he shot the DART officer, who was wearing a bulletproof vest. The officer fired back, and when the exchange of gunfire ended, two bystanders had been struck.

One of them, Eric Johnson, was killed. The survivor told News 8 it was the DART officer who shot him, not the suspect.

DART board chairman John Carter Danish says based on the number of violent crimes compared to the number of passengers DART carries, the transit system is safe. But he knows after three fatal shootings in three months, passengers don't feel secure.

"We have a terrible perception problem right now," Danish said. "And we definitely want to address that perception problem. We do not want to tolerate any crime on our system."

Riders are calling on DART to place police officers on every train and bus. Danish says DART has 270 police officers who work three shifts. That's 90 officers per shift to cover five rail lines and hundreds of buses.

Danish said the transit system must find a way to put more officers on DART. They're asking for help from police across North Texas.

"You wear a uniform, you ride our system free," Danish said. "We'd love to see you come to us, just like you might go to 7-Eleven for a coffee or a donut."

Dallas police and the Transportation Security Administration offered to assist DART. Danish said the board will discuss it.

"Perhaps we could use some of those resources to create a presence around stations and platforms as we concentrate on a higher visible presence inside a rail carrier," Danish said.

DART will look at other transit systems across the country to see how they're dealing with violent crime. Danish said the board asked the DART police chief to come to their next meeting to address safety concerns.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com