LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A passenger threatened with a knife on a Las Vegas RTC bus is questioning why the man accused of pointing the weapon at him was deemed “low risk” and released without having to pay bail, only to allegedly stab and kill a man days later.
“That’s the thing you have to live with, the reality of that could have been you,” Abraham Guerrero said.
Guerrero, a construction worker and house cleaner, was riding the bus on Feb. 16 when Aaron Cole started yelling at a woman and her children, he said.
“I took initiative and said, ‘Look man, you need to calm down. You need to stop disrespecting her in front of her children, she hasn’t done anything to you,’” Guerrero said.
Surveillance video the 8 News Now Investigators obtained shows Guerrero and Cole arguing with each other. Minutes later, Cole stands up with a knife in his hand.
“What was your reaction when you saw that knife?” 8 News Now Investigator David Charns asked Guerrero.
“I said, ‘Oh damn, what did I just do?’” Guerrero said. “I had my backpack and if he came lunging at me I could use it as a shield.”
The bus driver then stopped the bus and moved toward the back to speak with Guerrero and Cole, the video shows.
Metro police later arrested Cole on a charge of assault with the use of a deadly weapon and two counts of carrying a concealed weapon, records showed.
“Do you think you prevented a murder on the bus that day?” Charns asked.
“Of course, of course,” Guerrero said. “After seeing the way he reacted, it didn’t take anything to react and get angry.”
In 1994, police arrested Cole on a charge of second-degree murder after he shot a man in a Salvation Army lobby, records said. The charge was reduced to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, records indicated.
Cole served nearly 23 years in prison and was released in 2017, officials in Texas confirmed.
On Feb. 22, after the Feb. 16 incident, Judge Joseph Sciscento released Cole on his own recognizance, ordering Cole not to have contact with the victim. Cole’s public defender had argued for release on his own recognizance without setting bail, records showed. The court docket indicates prosecutors asked for $3,000 bail.
Cole’s pre-trial risk assessment, a system the courts use to determine bail, deemed him “low risk,” documents the 8 News Now Investigators obtained said.
“From whom you saw on the bus that day, was that someone who was a low risk?” Charns asked.
“Nobody’s going to pull out a knife if they’re not going to act on it,” Guerrero said.
On Feb. 26, Cole allegedly stabbed Dominique Lucas, 33, over the course of several minutes before the bus stops. The incident begins on video at 4:50 p.m. The bus stops and its doors open at 4:54 p.m. Keolis, one of two transit companies RTC contracts with to provide bus service, said the driver was on an alternate route due to that day’s marathon.
“I wasn’t bothering you,” Lucas is heard saying on the video the 8 News Now Investigators obtained. Several seconds later, Cole lunges at Lucas and a physical altercation begins.
For about 2 minutes, Lucas stumbles around the front area of the bus and it continues down Paradise Road. During this time, the bus driver activated a panic button and talked to a dispatcher.
“Man, come on, you want to get off the bus?” the driver is heard saying to Lucas in the video.
Two minutes after the initial attack, the video shows Cole getting up and stabbing Lucas several more times. The bus, which was traveling on an alternate route due to that day’s marathon, was traveling in the left lane. It eventually stopped near the intersection of Paradise and Desert Inn roads.
The driver did not open the bus’s doors due to the risk of the victim or passengers running into traffic and because the bus would not be able to move if the doors were opened, a spokesperson for Keolis, said.
“Should have never happened,” Guerrero said, thinking he could have become a stabbing victim. “You feel trapped. When he pulled the knife on me, it’s just you and him just whoever else is on the bus.”
Guerrero made it off the bus alive, but he questions his safety every ride.
“You just never know who’s going to get on the bus.,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s very sad that someone had to lose their life because of this, because of what happened.”
Prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty should the man accused of killing another man on an RTC bus be convicted of murder, documents said. While Nevada has the death penalty, a person has not been put to death since 2006.
Cole remained at the Clark County Detention Center on Tuesday as a judge denied him bail. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.