A young Brisbane bus driver is dead after being set on fire as he sat at the wheel in an attack that’s left police, witnesses and workmates reeling.
Manmeet Alisher, 29-year-old driver stood no chance after a passenger climbed aboard his bus, doused him in a flammable liquid and set him ablaze at a Moorooka bus stop on Friday.
The man’s horrific death was likely captured on cameras installed on Brisbane City Council busses.
A 48-year-old man, described by police as “compliant”, was arrested at the scene and a murder investigation is underway.
The crime played out in full view of horrified onlookers and just four weeks after the state government finally announced a review aimed at halting escalating attacks on bus drivers.
Taxi driver Aguek Nyok, who kicked out the back door of the bus as it stood burning at the bus stop, is being hailed a hero for saving passengers, including children and their terrified mothers.
But there was nothing he could do to help the driver, who was hired by the council as a casual driver just a few months ago.
Veteran police Superintendent Jim Keogh says the attack appears random and without motive, and terrorism is not suspected.
“The fire was substantial, he (the driver) would have stood little chance,” he said.
“Words escape me. It’s a horrific incident.”
She said the horrific nature of the driver’s death was difficult to comprehend, and like the Dreamworld tragedy, there were witnesses who would need help to get over what they’d seen.
“I know that all the thoughts of Queenslanders are with this young man’s family,” she told reporters.
Flags at council buildings will be flown at half mast on Saturday as a mark of respect.
The taxi driver credited with saving terrified passengers has told of his confusion after coming across the blazing bus.
Mr Nyok began kicking frantically at a back door when he heard people screaming to get out.
“I thought the driver would open the door for them but nah, I stood a few seconds and nothing was happening so I decided to do something about it,” he told the Nine Network.
“Everyone was shaking … I was just holding the door until the last one got out.”
Witness Clair Savage said the cabbie was a hero.
“I just said to him ‘you just saved people’s lives’,” she said.
The passengers have been treated for smoke inhalation and shock and Supt Keogh said they were visibly traumatised.
Shock and anger has already started to emerge among other bus drivers, who’ve long bemoaned the lack of government action on driver safety.
Comment is being sought from the union, and the government.
Craig Brown also drives Brisbane City Council busses and is still receiving counselling after being attacked on the job by an ice addict in November.
“Today has really shaken me up. It’s just rattled me to my core” he said.
Community mourns over death of Manmeet Alisher, a Multi-talented man
Punjabi & Indian community is really shocked at the death of Bus driver, Manmeet Alisher, who was also a famous local Punjabi Singer and a multi-talented man. According to his friends, He was a very social guy and he wanted to create a good social society and made short films.
Manmeet was also part of a non-profit charity helping poor and needy kids in Punjab.
Manmeet, 29, originally hailed from Sangrur in Punjab.
One man, who said his brother had become close with Mr Alisher at community events in recent years, said the victim had only recently started driving buses.
“He was a great person, he had only just got back into town,” the man said.
“Everyone knows him in the community, we are all in shock as to what happened — I’ve never heard or seen of anything like what has happened here.”