A man who allegedly sprayed a noxious substance at two MTA bus drivers this summer has been indicted by the Brooklyn District Attorney on felony assault and reckless endangerment charges. He was arraigned in a Brooklyn court on Thursday, and faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.
Brooklyn D.A. Eric Gonzalez identified the suspect as 46-year-old Andre Chandler of Brownsville. He is accused of brandishing a canister of Counter Assault Bear Deterrent and spraying it in the direction of a B15 bus driver who wouldn't make a stop at Rockaway and Hegeman Avenues. The mysterious substance irritated the driver's eyes and caused him to choke, and he was later hospitalized.
The suspect fled after the incident, which occurred at 4 a.m. on August 23rd. But Chandler allegedly struck again just twelve hours later, unleashing the bear-strength pepper spray on a different B15 bus just six blocks north. The driver and two passengers were hospitalized with similar symptoms after the apparently unprovoked attack. The sprayer was later identified in security camera footage, and seen tossing the canister of bear mace in a garbage can.
Chandler now faces a 14-count indictment that includes second- and third-degree assault, second-degree reckless endangerment and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. His bail was set at $30,000, and he will return to court on November 26th.
"Transit workers provide invaluable services to our city and I am fully committed to protecting them," D.A. Gonzalez said in a statement. "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.”
Two weeks ago, an altercation between two subway commuters ended with a man spraying an unknown noxious substance on a 2 train in Brooklyn, causing surrounding straphangers to suffer skin and stomach irritations. Fourteen people were hospitalized in that incident, and police are still searching for the perpetrator.