SANTA CLARA, Calif. - A bus driver for the Valley Transportation Authority arrested last month on suspicion of making a criminal threat of gun violence was allegedly upset over the agency's COVID vaccine policy.
The driver, 64-year-old Douglas Lofstrom, allegedly told a co-worker that if he was terminated for not meeting VTA's vaccine mandate then there would be "some shooting," according to a police report obtained by KTVU. The threat was first reported by the Mercury News.
He was supposed to have a court hearing regarding his vaccination status.
"If I get fired today, you’re going to see me on the news," Lofstrom allegedly told his co-worker at the Chaboya Division Yard on South Seventh Street.
He allegedly made the same remark to a second employee.
While one employee thought Lofstrom, who's been with the agency for 23 years, was just venting his frustration with the COVID policy, another felt "uneasy, threatened, and feared for her safety and the safety of other VTA employees," according to a court document.
Lofstrom was arrested on the morning of June 17 and booked into Santa Clara County Jail.
He is on paid administrative leave from the VTA while the agency and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office investigates his words and consequence that follows.
"In this day and age, in this time, any comments that are relating to any potential violence whether it be at a school, a workplace, a church, all of these things have to be taken into serious reflection of being safe," said Bobby McDonald, a criminal justice expert at the University of New Haven.
In an emailed statement, the transportation agency's General Manager Carolyn Ganot wrote, "It is unacceptable for any VTA employee to make violent threats against this agency, and such behavior will not be tolerated…VTA is following the required administrative procedure to deal with the June 17 incident and a decision on Mister Lofstrom’s employment status will be made following a disciplinary hearing."
The alleged threat of violence comes after last year's mass shooting at another VTA maintenance yard that left nine employees dead. The gunman who carried out the massacre was Sam Cassidy, a disgruntled employee.
Records show Cassidy fumed his hatred for VTA for months before investigators said his emotions led to deadly actions.
Lofstrom denied making violent threats on a GoFundMe page created to help raise money for his legal defense.
Lofstrom said stress over the hearing is partly to blame for his actions.
He admits the quip about being on the news was wrong, but says he never mentioned a gun.
While Lofstrom is no longer in custody, he must wear an ankle monitor and had to turn over all weapons.