Advertisement
  1. News

Assailant in bus attack told driver, 'God bless you,' before slitting his throat, report says

Justin Ryan McGriff, 35, was arrested on a charge of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of a Hillsborough Area Regional Transit bus driver, according to police. [Tampa Police Department]
Published May 20

Click here to read this story in Spanish

TAMPA — As Thomas Dunn steered a public bus down Nebraska Avenue, passenger Justin McGriff walked up and said something strange.

"God bless you," McGriff told Dunn, repeating the phrase a second time.

Then, a Tampa police arrest report says, McGriff slit Dunn's throat with some sort of sharp weapon, severing his carotid and jugular arteries. Dunn, 46, died on the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit bus.

The new details about Saturday's killing are included in the arrest report released Monday that outlines the evidence police collected before charging McGriff with first degree murder in Dunn's death.

READ MORE: Tampa bus driver killed in stabbing had complained about safety issues

Police also released a 75-second 911 call, made by a passenger, that conveys the chaos that broke out on the bus about 4:15 p.m.

"This guy just stabbed the bus driver in the neck," the caller says over the sound of other passengers shouting in the background.

The operator asks if the assailant is still on the bus.

"He ran off," the caller said. "We was on the bus at it was driving so he jumped off as it was still moving. The guy slit his neck, sir. The guy is actually dead right now, the driver."

Traveling the MetroRapid express route between the University Area Transit Center and downtown Tampa, the bus was equipped with video and audio surveillance system that captured the incident.

As he bled from his throat, Dunn still managed to bring the bus to stop, police said. Responding officers and Tampa Fire Rescue crews tried live-saving measures but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Officers tried to stop McGriff, 35, near Interstate 275 because he fit the description provided by witnesses. He fled on foot. He was caught on the interstate after a brief foot chase and arrested on a charge of resisting arrest. Detectives worked through the night Saturday and, based on the video evidence and witness accounts, added the murder charge, police said.

The report says the video does not show any provocation on Dunn's part, which is consistent with what witnesses told investigators. Police said in a statement Monday there is still no clear motive for the attack.

One witness told police he was "fearful of the defendant" after seeing him behaving erratically during the previous three or four days.

Records show McGriff was being held without bail Monday in the Hillsborough County Jail.

Contact Tony Marrero at tmarrero@tampabay.com or tmarrero@tampabay.com. Follow @tmarrerotimes.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Jan Knowles is the tour guide of a new walking Murals Tour in downtown Brooksville. The one-hour tour is sponsored by the Hernando County Fine Arts Council and features eight murals, including this one painted on the Historic Woman's Club on Main Street. MICHELE MILLER  |  Times
    Projects coordinator Jan Knowles is bringing attention to the downtown mural scene
  2. Hernando County community news Tara McCarty
    Hernando County letters to the editor
  3. Victor Becerra kisses his wife, Maria Martinez Rivera, at Tampa International Airport. She recently returned after being gone since April 2018. JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  Times
    Congressman’s office got involved in helping security a visa and bringing mother back to her American family.
  4. The Bucs are on a 3-0 winning streak after defeating the Colts at home.
  5. AP file photo of then Gov. and now U.S. Sen. Rick Scott
    DeSantis, Rick Scott and other Republicans have taken a strong stance on Saudi Arabia in recent days. President Donald Trump?
  6. A pair of bottlenose dolphins surface off the coast off Savannah, Ga., as viewed from a vessel heading to Gray's Reef on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty) ROBERT F. BUKATY  |  AP
    The dolphin was stuck in a lobster trap line. The crew’s actions likely saved the dolphin’s life.
  7. Charlie explains to his parents and sister, Beth, that the best thing about church is that there are no Herdmans there. Pictured, from left: Sarah Krug as Mother (Grace Bradley), Amber Marino as Beth, Frank Miller as Father (Bob Bradley) and Jude Mys as Charlie. Kristina Mitten
    Live Oak Theatre presents ‘Best Christmas Pageant Ever'
  8. An undated photo of an inmate pod at the Falkenburg Road Jail in Hillsborough County. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office] Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
    Marcus Anderson, 33, collapsed Dec. 1 at the Falkenburg Road Jail. He died six days later.
  9. FILE- In this Jan. 29, 2016 file photo shows the entrance to the Naval Air Base Station in Pensacola, Fla. The US Navy is confirming that an active shooter and one other person are dead after gunfire at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. Area hospital representatives tell The Associated Press that at least 11 people were hospitalized. The base remains locked down amid a huge law enforcement response. (AP Photo/Melissa Nelson, File) MELISSA NELSON  |  AP
    The Navy on Saturday identified the three victims and hailed them as heroes for trying to stop the shooter and flagging down first responders after being shot.
  10. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    The intersection near the accident is a difficult one to safely navigate.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement