In a former life, Muni operator Juan Castillo served 25 years as a state parole agent in Oakland. He retired in 2012, never having faced a firearm.
It was only after he began driving for Muni that he finally stared down what he believed was the barrel of a gun.
“After that, I didn’t sleep,” he told the San Francisco Examiner. “I didn’t sleep all night.”
The incident on Sunday happened when an irate rider pulled what may have been a gun on Castillo and his bus, the San Francisco Police Department said.
No arrests have been made, but police spokesperson Officer Carlos Manfredi said they will check Muni surveillance video.
It was dark, and Castillo said he could not quite see the alleged gun. But due to his law enforcement training and “the way he took his arms out and pointed at me,” Castillo believed a gun was drawn.
The incident happened amid other assaults on Muni operators this year, including the beating of operator Carla Romero, an attempted hijacking of a 90-San Bruno Owl at gunpoint, the assault of a 49-Van Ness driver who was punched in the face near City College of San Francisco, and a Muni operator who was recently cracked over the head with a skateboard.
Castillo was driving a 31-Balboa bus on Market Street on Sunday night when he picked up a man at Turk Street in the Tenderloin. The man played music loudly, which Castillo requested he turn off.
Castillo rolled up to Eddy and Fillmore streets at about 10:30 p.m. and contacted Muni central control to ask for police assistance. The man got off the bus.
Castillo started to drive his bus away, but midblock, the passenger came back.
He stood directly in front of the bus and “took a stance and pointed his arms out, and had a gun, pointed at me,” Castillo said.
Castillo pressed the bus’ silent alarm.
“I went to my hip for my gun,” Castillo said, a reflex from his time as a parole agent, but quickly realized he no longer carried one.
The allegedly armed man paced back and forth in front of the bus, and shoved what may have been a gun down his pants. He then fled.
Castillo had resigned from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency a few days before, he said, and after this and other incidents he doesn’t believe the agency does enough to protect drivers.
The SFMTA earlier this year launched an ad campaign to call for the public to treat operators safely.
“We take these issues very seriously and pursue all appropriate actions on incidents that involve our operators,” Muni spokesperson Paul Rose previously told the Examiner.
“I’m 54 years old and enjoy a challenge,” he said, but added that the job is far too dangerous to be worth it.
”Nineteen dollars and eleven cents [an hour] to do this?” he said. “That’s ludicrous.”