Man accused of punching transit workers

Daily Post Staff Writer

A man is facing criminal charges after he punched two transit workers in Menlo Park and Belmont, a prosecutor said.

On Friday around 6:45 a.m., a Caltrain conductor asked Richard Merchant, 26, of South San Francisco, to get off the train because he did not pay for a ticket, said District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

When the train pulled into the Menlo Park train station, Merchant punched the conductor in the eye, and got off the train, Wagstaffe said.

A few hours later, Merchant was riding a SamTrans bus and was allegedly coughing and spitting on the bus as it was going through Belmont. When the bus driver asked Merchant to cover his mouth, he got up, stood on the chain that separates the driver from the rest of the bus and threw a cup at the back of the driver’s head before punching him in the back of the head multiple times, said Wagstaffe.

Merchant was arrested and was charged with both a felony and a misdemeanor count of assaulting a public employee.

Wagstaffe noted that Merchant may be suffering from some mental health problems.
Merchant will be in court again on June 24 and remains in jail in lieu of $25,000.