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'Now you're going to get the corona': Bus passenger allegedly spits on, punches driver — due to cellphone that cracked after he dropped it


Stay classy

Image source: Multnomah County (Oregon) Sheriff's Office

A 27-year-old man punched and spit on a Portland bus driver over the weekend and capped off the deed by declaring, "Now you're going to get the corona," the Oregonian reported, citing a probable cause affidavit filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

What are the details?

JJ Lee Purcell was the only passenger on a TriMet bus driven by Don Tacha when Purcell allegedly started screaming at the driver after Purcell dropped his cellphone and it cracked, the paper said, citing court documents.

Purcell reportedly tried to punch Tacha around a plastic protective barrier that was installed on some buses last year due to increased assaults against drivers, the Oregonian added.

He "made contact" with his punch, spit on Tacha, and yelled that he had infected the operator with the coronavirus, the paper said, citing court documents.

Purcell — who stands 5-feet 6-inches tall and weighs 140 pounds — was booked into Multnomah County Jail just after 2 a.m. Saturday. Jail records indicated he remained an inmate as of Wednesday morning. No bail amount was listed.

He was charged with attempted assault, interfering with pubic transportation, and harassment — all misdemeanors.

TriMet spokeswoman Roberta Altstadt told the Oregonian that the transit agency appreciated the "quick work" of the district attorney's office in the case.

"The safety and security of our operators and passengers who must ride right now is of the utmost importance, especially during this time of so much uncertainty," Altstadt added to the paper.

Anything else?

The Oregonian also said TriMet rides were down 60% last week compared to February's ridership, and the agency said service cuts will begin Sunday.

Drivers have contacted TriMet's Operations Command Center a dozen times between March 24 and March 31 over concerns about possible coronavirus exposure, the paper said, citing public records. In those incidents, buses are returned to the garage and cleaned, the Oregonian said.

The paper added that it isn't clear if the spitting case was one of those 12 possible exposure instances. TriMet said Monday it had its first known case of an employee testing positive for COVID-19.

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