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Suspect wanted for deadly CATS bus driver shooting arrested, police say

Darian Dru Thavychith was arrested Tuesday, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said. He was wanted in connection with the killing of CATS driver Ethan Rivera.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The man wanted in connection with the killing of CATS bus driver Ethan Rivera during a road rage encounter in Uptown last month was arrested in Kansas Tuesday, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said. Darian Dru Thavychith was wanted for murder and discharging a weapon into occupied property.

Thavychith was wanted on multiple charges stemming from the shooting of Rivera. CMPD said Rivera was shot while driving along West Trade Street near Truist Ballpark on Feb. 11. He died from his injuries the next day. CATS held a moment of silence on Feb. 18 to honor Rivera.

CMPD released surveillance photos of the suspect and their vehicle on Feb. 15. Capt. Joel McNelly said investigators were looking for a black 2003-2005 Honda Pilot with two square backup lights. Rivera's mother pleaded for anyone with information to step forward. 

McNelly announced Tuesday that Thavychith was captured early Tuesday morning in Kansas. He said CMPD worked with the FBI, federal agents, state investigators and local authorities in Tennessee, Kansas and Colorado to track down Thavychith. 

Credit: Johnson County Sheriff's Office
Darian Dru Thavychith

"We appreciate all of the assistance from so many law enforcement officials to locate this dangerous person," McNelly said. "We also want to thank the community for the information you gave us to find Thavychith. We pray this information brings some resolve and peace to the Rivera family."

CATS CEO John Lewis said Tuesday's update was a "bright ray of sunshine" for the CATS family. 

"We are one step closer to justice for Ethan Rivera," Lewis said. "We are finally bringing this individual to justice."

"This animal has to be taken off the street," Sylvia Rivera said. "If it happened to my son, your child could be next because this person didn't seem to care who Ethan was or who he was leaving behind."

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CATS bus drivers and other employees attended Monday's Charlotte City Council meeting to demand safety changes in the wake of the shooting. Many of those who attended a rally outside the government center dressed in all black in solidarity. 

"It's time to stand up," Willis Draughn said. "They're scared they're not going to make it home to their family."

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Draughn said he's had several CATS bus drivers call him about safety concerns, with many employees saying they fear for their lives. Since 2017, there have been 57 assaults on CATS operators, including two shootings, according to data released by CATS. 

Multiple drivers addressed City Council about their experiences on the job, including assaults. One driver said her nose was broken during an assault by a stranger.

"That's the issue in this city, we ain't get no respect," Draughn said. "These people don't get no respect. They help my city move. They help your city move."

Note: WCNC instituted a new policy in March 2021 regarding the broadcast or posting of mugshots.  

WCNC will only air or post a mugshot if the person has been formally charged with a crime and in a few other cases. The exceptions include: If it appears the person could be a danger to themselves or others or if they are wanted by authorities; to differentiate between people with a common name; if the photos could encourage more victims to come forward. The news-editorial leadership may also decide to use a mugshot based on the severity of the crime(s) committed and/or the level of public interest in the crime and ensuing criminal proceedings.

WCNC Charlotte is choosing to show the mugshot of the suspect in this case due to the high public interest and nature of the charges.

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