Girl, 14, arrested after firework set off on packed Toronto bus
TTC says there have been 7 cases of people being reckless with fireworks on its vehicles in 9 days
Toronto police say they have arrested a 14-year-old girl who allegedly set off a firework on a packed TTC bus in Scarborough during Tuesday rush hour.
The girl, who cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, has been charged with mischief endangering life. She is due to appear in a Toronto courtroom on Friday, July 14.
The Toronto Transit Commission says the incident on Tuesday is one of seven in nine days involving people being reckless with fireworks on its vehicles, though it's unclear if any of the cases are connected.
"Reminder: these are illegal acts and we have video. All will be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law," the TTC said in a tweet Wednesday.
In a 22-second video of the incident posted to Twitter, a teen is seen smiling as she lights a large firework in the middle of the bus. She points the firework at the back of the bus as riders crouch down, cover their heads and start screaming.
"It's not popping, it's not popping," someone shouts before the fireworks goes off. "You're a f--king idiot," someone else says.
The website 6ixBuzz says it was sent the video and paid for it.
In a news release on Wednesday, police said the bus was travelling northbound in the area of Kingston Road and Guildwood Parkway at the time. The bus was at "full capacity," police added.
The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, which represents TTC workers, said the incident happened on the 116 Morningside bus route.
Police are also investigating two other similar incidents — both in Scarborough — involving firecrackers set off on TTC property. In one case, a firecracker was thrown into a bus shelter on May 24. Then, on May 25, a firework was set off on a bus, she said.
No injuries have been reported, they say.
TTC calls incident 'irresponsible' and 'illegal'
Stuart Green, spokesperson for the TTC, said the incidents are of great concern.
"It's reckless, it's irresponsible and it's illegal. And it's why we take these things so seriously," Green said.
"These are not things to be toyed with. We, of course, don't understand why someone would want to do this. It could have ended very differently. We're fortunate that it didn't."
Green said similar incidents have happened before across the city around the time of statutory holidays.
Marvin Alfred, president of the ATU Local 113, said the act was "extremely irresponsible," particularly because the firework was set off in an enclosed space and put innocent people at risk.
Such incidents shake confidence in the public transit system and add to the perception that there is a "lack of order" on the TTC, he said. The bus operator, who was traumatized, is currently off work, he said.
"If you're doing this in order to get notoriety online, then I'm concerned at what it would take the next time to get even more notoriety and how you're going to affect other people recklessly in the future," Alfred said.
"Everyone on that vehicle is lucky, very lucky, that they escaped any serious harm."
Act 'incredibly dangerous,' fireworks expert says
Brandon Walters, operations manager at AirMagic Special Effects in Toronto, said it's important to follow safety protocols on the packaging because the blast of fireworks can cause serious burns.
"They could risk other dismemberment and other severe injuries due to the size and volume of the effect that was produced by a single shell," he said.
The firework used in the Tuesday incident appears to be a Vulcan Fireworks brand product with a blue ring and white strobe pistil, advertised as shooting to a height of 25 metres. It's meant to be set off in an open area with no overhead obstructions, Walters said.
"It was incredibly dangerous and all those people were in a very bad scenario on that bus."
With Thomas Daigle, Victoria Stunt and Muriel Draaisma