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Seattle bus driver shot by passenger; police shoot gunman

SEATTLE (Reuters) - A passenger shot and wounded a Seattle city bus driver on Monday and then was shot and critically wounded by police in a burst of morning rush-hour violence that also left two officers with minor injuries, authorities said.

The 64-year-old driver was shot at least twice, in the torso and cheek, but his injuries were not believed to be life-threatening, according to police and other officials.

The incident began when the alleged assailant boarded the bus from the rear door and the driver asked him to come forward to pay, said Jim Pugel, interim chief of the Seattle Police Department.

The suspect, who police said is in his 30s or 40s, approached the bus driver and assaulted him before opening fire, Pugel said.

The suspect fled on foot through bustling downtown Seattle. He tried to hijack a service truck and then a car before boarding a second bus about a block away, Pugel said. After police confronted him, the suspect raised his gun and was shot at least twice, Pugel said.

The suspect was taken to a hospital in critical condition.

Authorities did not identify the suspect, and said they were waiting to release the name of the driver until after his family had been notified.

Two officers were hurt in the incident, police said. One was treated for minor injuries to his ear, possibly from broken glass. Another was taken to a hospital for a checkup, Pugel said.

Two passengers suffered minor bruising while fleeing from the second bus, police said.

King County Executive Dow Constantine visited the bus driver at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and said he found him to be in good spirits and joking.

"He asked almost immediately, how are his passengers," Constantine told an afternoon news conference.

The shootings occurred in an area of downtown Seattle that was until last year a free-ride zone in which passengers are not charged a fare.

(Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky; Editing by Steve Gorman, Dan Whitcomb and Xavier Briand)