Milwaukee woman charged with battery, accused of stabbing MCTS driver over bus fare

Betty Roberts

MILWAUKEE -- Charges were filed Saturday, May 18 against a Milwaukee woman accused of assaulting a Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) bus driver. Betty Roberts, 24, is facing one count of battery to public transit operator (use of a dangerous weapon).

The assault happened near 76th and Appleton on Wednesday, May 15. Officials said Roberts refused to pay the bus fare around 3:30 p.m. When confronted by the driver, officials said she became both verbally and physically abusive to the bus driver. MCTS officials said the bus driver suffered minor injuries to his arm when the woman climbed over the driver’s security shield and stabbed him.

According to the criminal complaint, the MCTS driver said he was on his normal route when he heard a honk from another bus driver, signaling that a passenger was attempting to get on his bus. The driver pulled over just north of the intersection of W. Capitol Drive and W. Appleton Avenue to let the passenger get on.

The complaint indicated when the passenger, later identified as Betty Roberts, got on the bus, she stood in front of the driver. That's when the driver allegedly said, "Ma'am, please pay your bus fare and sit down so I can drive." That's when Roberts allegedly placed a penny in the fare collection. The driver told Roberts it was "$2.25 to ride."

Betty Roberts

The driver then grabbed the phone on the bus and pretended to make a call in an attempt to get Roberts to pay, leave, or sit down. That's when Roberts walked by and sat down, according to the complaint.

A few moments later, Roberts allegedly approached the driver again and began "harassing" him and went on a "rampage," according to the complaint.

The complaint indicated Roberts jumped over the partial partition and began to press any and all buttons that she could on the control panel. At one point, Roberts was on top of the steering wheel while the operator was driving.

Betty Roberts

When the MCTS driver called dispatch, Roberts allegedly yelled, "Drop the phone." At that time, the driver observed what he believed to be a knife in Roberts' hand. The driver told police he was struggling to fight Roberts off while she was grabbing on the handle on the partition. During this struggle, Roberts cut the bus driver on his right forearm.

Roberts then fled the bus in the area of 76th Street and Appleton Avenue.

According to the complaint, the MCTS bus driver sustained a two to three inch long, thin laceration on his right forearm.

The complaint said after officials asked for help identifying the person responsible for the attack on the bus driver, an anonymous tip came in, identifying her as Betty Roberts. The driver confirmed Betty Roberts was the person who attacked him.

Roberts told investigators she "uses crack and heroin" and "had no recollection of the incident." She said she did not remember boarding a bus at Appleton and Capitol, and did not recall jumping over the partition and stabbing the driver.

Roberts made her initial appearance in court Monday, May 20. Probable cause was found for further proceedings. Cash bond was set at $2,500, and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for May 24.

MCTS officials told FOX6 News the bus driver was doing well, considering what he went through.

Betty Roberts

MCTS released the following statement on this incident:

“The safety of MCTS employees and riders is our highest priority. Anyone who decides to board our buses and cause disruptions or harm will be caught and held accountable for their actions. MCTS provides more than 30 million rides each year. While attacks on bus operators are extremely rare, even one is too many. Our focus is on maintaining a safe environment for all employees and riders.”