TAMPA, Fla. — The man accused of stabbing a Hillsborough Area Regional Transit bus driver to death has been charged with first-degree murder, Tampa Police said Sunday.
- Justin Ryan McGriff is also charged with resisting arrest
- HART bus passengers on edge a day after driver stabbed
- New HART CEO hailed slain bus driver as a hero
- RELATED: Tampa HART Bus Driver Fatally Stabbed; Person in Custody
Justin Ryan McGriff, 35, is charged with first-degree murder and resisting arrest in the stabbing of the bus driver, whose name has not been released.
The stabbing happened just before 4:15 p.m. Saturday at North Nebraska Avenue between East Lotus Avenue and North Castle Court, south of East Linebaugh Avenue.
Police investigators said there were less than 10 people on the bus when the driver was stabbed in the neck.
The bus driver was able to pull over the bus safely before dying of his injuries. No one else on the bus was injured.
McGriff then jumped off the bus and ran toward Interstate 275, where police caught up with him, authorities say.
"We were able to approach that person. He ran (and) ended up on the embankment toward the interstate," said Steve Hegarty, a Tampa Police spokesperson. "We again chased him, (and he) ended up on the side of the interstate... At that, point we were able to apprehend him."
While detectives take the wheel of the murder investigation, HART's 350 drivers were back in their buses, albeit a bit more cautious of their surroundings.
On Sunday, the newly hired CEO of HART hailed the slain driver as a hero.
"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 from the additional 12 passengers that were on board," CEO Ben Limmer said.
HART officials said increasing security aboard its buses was already in motion.
"Our entire bus fleet as well as our para-transit vehicles and street car vehicles have undergone a $1.3 million overhaul on the camera surveillance system," HART Safety and Security Director Colin Mulloy said.
Plans also include adding surveillance cameras at places such as the Marion transit center and arming security guards.
Passengers welcomed the changes, but the attack still leaves some uneasy.
"I’ve seen a lot of crazy stuff go on, fights, drinking, just crazy stuff, but I ain’t never seen nothing like that. It’s crazy," Henry Johnson said.
"I’m kind of scared for my life," Aaron Blair said. "It could happen again. You never know."
Meanwhile, investigators were still looking for a motive.
"There's absolutely no doubt that yesterday's event was a game-changer," Limmer said. "We will certainly use this as an opportunity to take our safety program even further."
Justin Ryan McGriff, 35, has been charged with first-degree murder and resisting arrest. (Tampa Police Department)