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NICE bus driver attacked in Hempstead; vehicle later shot, cops, officials say

A new Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE) bus in

A new Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE) bus in Garden City. (Jan. 1, 2012) Credit: Barry Sloan

The driver of a NICE bus on a Hempstead Town route was attacked by two passengers wanting free rides, then that same bus was hit by a bullet hours later, Hempstead Village police and bus officials said Thursday.

Candice Stevenson, 22, of Roosevelt, and Jennifer Kamara, 21, of Jamaica were each arraigned on second-degree assault Thursday as police continued investigating the shooting of the Nassau Inter-County Express bus.

In the attack, the southbound N40 bus was picking up passengers about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Hempstead Transit Center when the two women demanded free rides from the driver because they had no money, police said. N40 travels between Mineola and Freeport.

The driver informed them they could pay with a cellphone app that allows them to purchase tickets, but the women said their phones were dead, police said.

"The bus driver told them they had to pay," said Hempstead Deputy Chief Mark Matthews.

That's when Stevenson reached over to try to reach for free transfer tickets, and when the driver said "no," Stevenson punched her in the forehead, Matthews said.

After the driver said she was calling a NICE supervisor, she was punched by Kamara, and suffered a cut and swollen lip, he said.

"The operator was punched and bitten," according to a NICE statement. "No passengers were injured."

The driver, whose name was not released by police and NICE, was treated at a medical clinic and released, the bus company said.

Officers went to the bus and arrested the women, police said.

Then shortly before 8 p.m., another driver was in the same N40 bus, going north back to the Hempstead Transit Center, when he heard a noise but didn't know what it was, Matthews said.

A bullet shattered one of the small, upper window panes on one side of the bus, then exited out another small window pane on the opposite side, Matthews said.

NICE officials said a group of men approached the bus as it was on Peninsula Boulevard near Main Street and shot at the rear door glass door of the bus.

"All the passengers on the bus ducked," Matthews said. "One of the passengers said 'Keep going. They shot up the bus.' "

The driver headed straight back to the Hempstead Transit Center, police said.

About 25 passengers were on board, but no injuries, not even from broken glass, were reported, Matthews said.

No bullet fragments were found on the bus or at the scene, police said, adding that it was not clear if the two incidents were related.

"It could just be a coincidence," Matthews said. "I'm not thinking that these two girls actually took the bus . . . [vehicle] number down. And it was a different driver. It could be connected. It might not be. It's really hard to say."

Officials of the union representing the bus drivers could not be immediately reached Thursday evening.

Stevenson, of 62 Park Ave., and Kamara, of 825 Parson Blvd., were arraigned Thursday and each was held pending a $5,000 bail.

Kamara was represented by Legal Aid, which does not comment on cases, and Stevenson was to be assigned a Legal Aid attorney.

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