A 46-year-old Brooklyn man has been indicted for assault, reckless endangerment and related charges for discharging pepper spray inside two MTA buses during two incidents about 12 hours apart.
District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said, “Transit workers provide invaluable services to our city and I am fully committed to protecting them. The defendant in this case allegedly used pepper spray to senselessly attack two bus drivers, putting them and their passengers at risk. He now faces felony charges because of the seriousness of his actions.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Andre Chandler, 46, of Brownsville, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Martin Murphy on a 14-count indictment charging him with second- and third-degree assault, second-degree reckless endangerment and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Bail was set at $30,000 and the defendant was ordered to return to court on November 26, 2018. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted of the top count.
The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on August 23, 2018, at approximately 4 a.m., the defendant boarded a B15 bus without paying the fare. The bus operator allowed him to remain on the bus and the defendant requested a stop near the corner of Rockaway and Hageman Aves. in Brownsville. The driver observed construction in the way and advised the defendant that he would have to pull up a little further. The defendant then allegedly pulled out a canister and sprayed the partition with a noxious substance, causing the driver to choke and suffer burning to his eyes. A passenger who attempted to board the bus also started choking and tearing. The defendant fled. The driver was treated at Brookdale Hospital.
Later that day, at about 4:30 p.m., the defendant allegedly boarded another B15 bus. At the corner of East 98th Street and Blake Avenue in Brownsville, the evidence shows, he allegedly pulled out a pepper spray canister and started macing the bus, causing passengers to exit as they coughed and teared. The defendant fled, and the driver pursued him while calling 911. The driver observed the defendant throw the canister in a garbage can before returning to tend to the passengers. A responding officer later found a can of Counter Assault Bear Deterrent, a type of pepper spray, in the garbage can. The driver and two passengers were treated at area hospitals.
Surveillance footage from the bus was published in the media and police received information about the defendant’s identity. Both drivers subsequently identified the defendant in a double-blind photo array. He was arrested on August 31, 2018.