A horrific scene played out on a Tampa bus over the weekend.
Tampa police officers responded to several calls about a stabbing aboard a Hillsborough Area Regional Transit bus. Witnesses said a passenger, later identified as Justin McGriff, had attacked the bus driver, according to an arrest report.
“The listed defendant intentionally cut the victim’s throat with an unidentified straight-edged weapon.”
Officers encountered McGriff bolting from the bus and chased him down.
Driver Thomas Dunn was mortally wounded, but managed to steer the bus to safety before he died.
The Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Officer determined that his carotid and jugular arteries were severed.
The affidavit says that on-board audiovisual surveillance footage shows McGriff walking from the rear of the bus with an “unidentified weapon” concealed in his right hand.
“The defendant then stopped next to the victim and can then be heard saying, ‘God bless you,’ twice before committing the attack,” according to the affidavit.
There was no evidence of provocation, according to fellow passengers, police said.
McGriff was arrested on a charge of first-degree murder. The suspect was denied bond on Monday. He has a pretrial hearing set for Friday.
Dunn, whose busy route went through the University of South Florida area and the city’s downtown, had raised concerns about his and fellow drivers’ safety at a Hillsborough Transit Authority meeting roughly five months ago, Fox 13 News reported.
“I’m just sitting in my seat. I get a face full of spit in my eye,” Dunn said at the time. “Then the lady decides she’s going to try to break my arm on the way out of the bus, try to draw blood in my arm.”
Transit officials said they’re speaking with other agencies across the state about stricter safety measures in Hillsborough County.
Dunn is being remembered as a hero.
“As the bus operator’s last act as a HART employee and the bus operator’s last act on this earth, after being struck, was successfully navigating the bus to the side of the road and stopping the bus and saving further injuries,” said transit CEO Benjamin Limmer, according to News Channel 8.