CHARLOTTE (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Family, friends, and coworkers of slain CATS bus operator Ethan Rivera honored him in a vigil at Camp Greene Park Thursday night.
Rivera was shot and killed while driving his bus last Friday in what CMPD is calling a road rage incident.
CATS bus drivers now say they plan to gather at the site of Rivera’s killing near Truist Park in Uptown Friday morning to ask the city for improved safety measures on buses.
A letter about Friday’s planned gathering calls for bullet-resistant partitions, security on evening routes, and working phones in all vehicles.
At the vigil, hundreds of supporters lit up candles and flashlights, just as they say Rivera lit up their hearts.
“His smile, his eyes – he was just a good person,” said his mother Sylvia Rivera.
Song, prayer, and an outpouring of love masked what fellow drivers say they’re feeling more than ever before: fear.
“I’m scared for myself, and I’m scared for each one of my operators, my coworkers,” said CATS driver and union president Christy Kiser.
Kiser has been operating CATS buses for nearly 25 years. She says she’s scared to go to work because what happened to Rivera could have happened to any one of them.
“Our operators are being spit on. They even have passengers saying, ‘this is the reason why you all are getting shot,’ she said.
It’s a loss that still hasn’t fully sunken in for his family.
“It came out of left field, and Ethan was better than this,” said Rivera.
And as balloons litter the sky, Ethan’s mother had one final message to whoever took her son.
“Whoever did this, whoever is out there, you’re being a coward in what you did. And anybody who knows something, please say something,” she said.
Also on Friday, CATS has called for a moment of silence for all buses at noon to honor Rivera.
CMPD is still looking for Rivera’s killer and says he was driving a 2003-2005 black Honda Pilot with running boards down both sides. They say the vehicle has square backup lights on both sides of the license plate.