Syracuse, NY — How small were the chances of a cell phone blocking a stray bullet headed for a Centro bus driver’s chest this morning?
“There’s a one in a billion chance,” declared Centro spokesman Steven Koegel. “When you think about it, it’s really amazing. This driver got up in the morning and was doing his job. A bullet hits him in the chest, is deflected by a cell phone and he walks away.”
The bullet may have traveled a city block before piercing the bus’s windshield and striking the driver, according to a police account.
Keogel said it’s the first time a bus driver has been hit by a bullet in his 18 years at Centro.
“We’re very thankful that the driver and the passengers, everyone on that bus, was fine,” Koegel said.
The 64-year-old bus driver declined an interview. He’s going to “recover fine,” Koegel said.
The driver and 15 passengers were on a route from downtown to Onondaga Community College via South Avenue.
The bus stopped at a stop sign on Bellevue Avenue at Rich Street when shots rang out around 10:50 a.m.
One of the bullets flew through the windshield and struck the cell phone in the driver’s chest pocket. Centro did not know any details about the phone itself.
The driver was not injured, but taken to a hospital for evaluation, police said.
A 21-year-old man told police he was standing at the corner of Bellevue and Palmer Avenue, a block away from the bus, when occupants inside a light-colored minivan fired several shots.
The man was struck several times by bullets. He arrived by private vehicle at Upstate Community General before being transferred to University Hospital. He was in serious condition this afternoon, police said.
The investigation is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Syracuse police at 315-442-5222.