Although the violent shooting of Jaime Pereira happened nearly five years ago, the incident is still fresh in the mind of TTC bus drivers in the Scarborough area.
Earlier this month, 23-year-old Malcolm Chalmers was convicted of the aggravated assault of Pereira and sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Pereira, 45, was shot in the face by a man who boarded the 116 bus at Morningside Avenue and Sewells Road on Oct. 15, 2005. Several men were fighting outside of the bus stop, and moments after Pereira called the TTC dispatch to report it, Chalmers jumped onto the bus and opened fire at Pereira with a pistol.
“Gunshots were clearly heard on the (TTC radio) tape,” Justice Ewaschuk, who presided over the case, told a jury during the final trial date before sentencing late last year.
Pereira’s left eye was removed after the incident and he has also lost most of the sight in his right eye, said Rick Symons, court advocate for the TTC.
“Pereira still works for the TTC, but can no longer drive a bus,” Symons said.
The violence directed toward Periera and other TTC employees has helped cause the TTC to pursue new safety initiatives. Some of these include the installation of security cameras on TTC vehicles and plastic barrier shields, both of which have been showing up on TTC buses across the city over the past year.
“This incident did not directly impact the decision to install protective shields on TTC vehicles (but) it certainly sped the process along,” Symons said.
Linda Ashaschey drives the 116 Morningside bus, which runs between the Kennedy and Finch Subway Stations, mainly during the day-time rush hour.
She generally leaves her barrier open unless she is working late at night or on an isolated route. However, the violent attack of Pereira still chills her to the bone; she admits that the barrier helps in certain situations, but not all.
“(The barriers) mostly help with spitting, but when it comes to something more violent, they aren’t bulletproof,” Ashachey said.
Justice Ewaschuk’s sentence reflected the serious nature of the crime, and although Chalmer’s issued an apology to Pereira, he is planning to appeal the sentence.