1. News

Following Tampa bus driver slaying, PSTA agrees to new shields

A rendering of how the PSTA’s planned barriers for bus drivers will look. It will cost up to $5,000 per bus to install. (Courtesy of PSTA)
Published Jun. 8

ST. PETERSBURG — Pinellas County bus drivers may soon be protected by a tempered glass partition, a measure pushed by drivers following the brutal slaying of one of their own last month.

Thomas Dunn was driving a public bus down Nebraska Avenue in Tampa when a passenger came up behind him and slit his throat. The May 18 attack was captured by a bus security camera. Footage showed that Dunn, 46, did not see his assailant even in the moments before his death. His eyes were focused on the road.

Hillsborough County still has not determined exactly what beefed-up security measures it may add to its buses, but the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority has announced plans to equip its 210 buses with new barriers by the fall. PSTA leadership agreed with the Service Employee International Union on Friday to add the shields, but the PSTA finance committee and board still needs to approve the purchase later this month.

"The horrific murder of our fellow bus driver in Tampa was a shocking wake-up call for our drivers, and we want to make sure that this tragedy doesn't happen again," April Murphy, a retired driver and union representative, said in a statement. "We took a stand and voiced our concerns, and would like to thank our PSTA leadership for listening to us and taking immediate action to ensure that our drivers are safe and no longer have to live in fear."

More than 15 Hillsborough County drivers demanded safer working conditions during a Hillsborough Area Regional Transit board meeting on June 3. They shared stories of being punched, attacked and spit on. Pinellas drivers attended to show their support and have been echoing the same concerns in their county.

[Read more: 'Now I'm afraid.' Hillsborough drivers demand more safety.]

While deaths are rare, bus drivers have long reported verbal and physical abuse from unruly passengers. Since 2008, nearly 2,000 drivers nationwide have been taken to the hospital because of an assault, according to the National Transit Database. Hillsborough authorities recorded an average of 13 verbal confrontations a month in the first four months of the year. On average, just under two per month escalated to physical violence.

Pinellas County has been testing out a barrier in one of its buses for the last six months.

"After hearing from our drivers last week, that they felt scared to go to work and feared for their own lives, we knew we had to act as quickly as possible," PSTA CEO Brad Miller, said in a statement. "When it comes to keeping our drivers safe, we must move at lightning speed."

The PSTA estimates it could cost up to $5,000 to install each of the glass barriers. The approved design covers more area than the one Pinellas County had been testing.

In total, it could be about a $1 million investment.

PSTA officials says the barriers take up to six weeks to be manufactured. Crews are expected to begin installing them in August and all PSTA buses are slated to have them by the end of October.

Meanwhile, HART has created a new committee that is expected to have a report with safety recommendations, costs, and a timeline by a July board meeting.

Contact Sara DiNatale at Follow @sara_dinatale.


  1. Scott Purcell, a senior geophysicist with GeoView, left, and Mike Wightman, president of GeoView, use ground-penetrating radar to scan a portion of King High School campus in search for Ridgewood Cemetery. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    Preliminary answers from the ground-penetrating radar could come as soon as next week.
  2. James Dailey, 73, was granted a stay of execution Wednesday. He had been set to be executed on Nov. 7 for the 1985 murder of 14-year-old Shelly Boggio. Florida Department of Corrections
    The execution will be postponed for 90 days for his attorneys to present their claims. Prosecutors can appeal. Dailey was set to be put to death Nov. 7. His lawyers have argued that he is innocent.
  3. Markeith Loyd, suspected of fatally shooting a Florida police officer, attends his initial court appearance Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017, at the Orange County Jail, in Orlando, Fla. Loyd spoke out of turn and was defiant during the appearance on charges of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend. He was injured during his arrest Tuesday night following a weeklong manhunt.
    The same jury found Loyd guilty last week of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting 24-year-old Sade Dixon outside her home in 2016.
  4. The new owner of a dilapidated mobile home park on Gandy Boulevard has sued the city of Tampa over a record-setting fine levied against the property for a massive tree removal in August. [CHARLIE FRAGO | Times]
    A Gandy Boulevard mobile home park owner is suing the city of Tampa over a record $420,000 fine .
  5. Dashboard camera video shows a Tampa police cruiser pursuing Dusharn Weems through a parking lot. A second later, Weems is fatally injured when the car strikes him. Courtesy Haydee Oropesa
    The family of Dusharn Weems, 23, claims an officer intentionally struck him after he was spotted driving a stolen car.
  6. Evangeline Cummings posted a video on Twitter of what appears to be a wasp stinging a coral snake that was dangling from a branch attempting to eat a dead snake. Evangeline Cummings/Twitter
    A coral snake found that out the hard way and a Florida woman caught it all on camera.
  7. Edward Nathaniel Holmes, 63, and Cynthia Ann Day, 49, a couple from Maryland, were found dead in their hotel room at the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana Resort in San Pedro de Macoris on May 30. Facebook
    News of the deaths of American tourists went viral earlier this year. Theories of tainted alcohol have damaged tourism to the island country since.
  8. An arrest report says a Customs and Border Patrol agent put 40-year-old Carlos Alberto Munoz-Moyano through a routine check after arriving at Miami International Airport on a flight from Chile early Monday. WILFREDO LEE  |  AP
    The flight attendants told agents they were smuggling the cash on behalf of someone else.
  9. Mirna Orellana, left, a community organizer from the non-profit group We Are Casa, helps Karyme Navarro, right, fill out a voter registration form in York, Pa., on Sept. 30, 2019. Democrats are counting on Hispanics so enraged by President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric that they’ll turn out in force to deny him a second term, but Trump’s reelection campaign has launched its own Hispanic outreach efforts in non-traditional places like Pennsylvania, arguing that even slim gains could decide the 2020 race. WILL WEISSERT  |  AP
    “You don’t need everyone from every group, but you have to have a little bit of everything.” said Bertica Cabrera Morris, a “Latinos For Trump” advisory board member.
  10. FILE - In this Jan. 26, 2011 file photo Akhmed Bilalov speaks with The Associated Press on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Bilalov, a former Russian Olympic Committee official, who fled the country following accusations by President Vladimir Putin was arrested Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, at his home in Sunny Isles, Fla., on an alleged immigration violation. MICHEL EULER  |  AP
    Akhmed Bilalov was taken to the Krome detention facility in Miami to face deportation and remained in custody Wednesday.