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Passengers Say Rio Olympics Media Bus Was Hit By Two Gunshots

CREDIT: LEE MICHELSON, HOOPFEED.COM
CREDIT: LEE MICHELSON, HOOPFEED.COM

Two bus windows were shattered and three people suffered minor injuries when a bus carrying journalists at the Rio Olympics was reportedly hit by gunfire on Tuesday night.

The disturbance occurred as the bus was travelling along the TransOlympic highway, a newly-built road that is reserved for “Olympic priority traffic” for the duration of the games.

According to USA Today and daily Rio newspaper O Globo, authorities have yet to confirm the shooting and are instead blaming the damage on rocks. The Olympics security chief is calling it an “act of vandalism.”

But Lee Michaelson, a reporter from Hoopfeed.com who was aboard the bus, said she clearly heard shots fired.

“I was texting my daughter about our dinner plans for the evening, when I suddenly heard two shots ring out in close succession. ‘Pop, pop,’” Michaelson wrote in a harrowing firsthand account of the incident. “I am a retired Air Force captain, as well as former federal prosecutor; I own a hand gun for personal protection, and have spent plenty of time on the range. I immediately knew we were taking small-arms gunfire.”

Michaelson said that she got on the floor as soon as she heard the gunshots, and told all the other passengers to “hit the deck” as well. After seeing this commotion, the bus driver initially began to pull over, but a photographer from Reuters who had worked in Iraq yelled at the driver to keep going, which the bus driver did until he was pulled over by a police officer a few kilometers later.

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The bullets reportedly didn’t completely penetrate the glass, but they did damage the windows and cause them to shatter. Among the injured passengers were Artur Zhol, a broadcaster from Belarus who had minor cuts on his hands from the broken glass, and Kaan Korkmaz, an Olympic volunteer from Turkey who had a bleeding gash on his arm.

According to Michaelson, there was no first aid available on the bus, and neither the police officer nor the bus driver offered any medical assistance to the injured passengers. She had to treat both of them with tissues and a water bottle that she had in her bag.

After the police officer left the bus, it continued the rest of the way to the Media Center without incident, except for the fact that the glass continued to fall out of the windows.

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Michaelson said that once the bus arrived at its destination “not a single representative of Rio2016 came over to talk to any of us,” nor was any medical assistance provided.

“We are aware that a media bus travelling from Deodoro to Barra on the Transcarioca had two windows broken by objects coming from the surrounding area,” the IOC said in a statement. “The security authorities are now investigating the incident and we await their report before making further comment.”

Rio 2016 officials said army and military police will be increased in the area after the incident.