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SF Muni Drivers Face Violent Attacks After Fatal Police Shooting

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) - Community outrage over the fatal police shooting of a fleeing murder suspect who allegedly fired at San Francisco police officers after fare inspectors tried to check the Muni transfer has led to several attacks against Muni drivers and vehicles, Muni officials said Tuesday.

Two drivers were assaulted and several buses pelted with heavy objects during protests in the Bayview Sunday, said Tom Nolan, chairman of the Municipal Transportation Agency.

KCBS' Barbara Taylor Reports:

One of the drivers suffered minor injuries, and smashed windows on two of the buses will cost Muni about $1,000 to replace.

Nolan said Muni would not tolerate threats to its drivers or other attacks against any of its personnel.

"Violence of any sort just totally crosses the line, and we need to do whatever we can to prevent that from happening," he said.

Nolan said the apparently retaliatory attacks happened at a time when street demonstrations for the shooting of 19-year-old Kenneth Harding forced Muni to stop running light rail cars on the T Third line and replace them with Muni buses.

Harding was shot at about 4:45 p.m. after running from officers who had taken him off a Muni light-rail vehicle at Third Street and Palou Avenue for suspected fare evasion, according to police.

During the chase, Harding, a Seattle resident, allegedly pulled out a handgun and shot at the pursuing officers, police said. Two officers returned fire, wounding Harding. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead at 7:01 p.m., police said.

Police said Harding was a person of interest in a shooting in Seattle last Wednesday that killed a 19-year-old woman and injured three other people.

He had been released on parole in April after serving part of a 22-month sentence for attempting to promote prostitution in a case that involved a 14-year-old victim, and by being in San Francisco he was in violation of his parole, police Lt. Hector Sainez said.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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