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Prosecutors seek death penalty against man suspected of stabbing, killing HART bus driver

Posted at 4:04 PM, Aug 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-12 23:17:58-04

TAMPA, Fla. -- Prosecutors announced they will seek the death penalty against a man suspected of killing a HART bus driver.

On Monday, the State of Florida published a notice of intent to seek the death penalty against 35-year-old Justin McGriff, who was charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of 46-year-old Thomas Dunn.

RELATED: Suspect caught on camera saying "God bless you" before deadly stabbing of HART bus driver

Back in May, the Tampa Police Department responded to a call of a bus driver being stabbed by a passenger at North Nebraska Avenue and East Lotus Avenue. Upon arrival, TPD began searching for the stabbing suspect and officers eventually spotted McGriff near I-275.

TPD officers detained McGriff after a short chase. McGriff was originally only charged with resisting arrest without violence, but police later announced he was charged with first-degree murder.

"Our drivers are scared now more than ever because of what happened to Thomas Dunn," said April Murphy, a union representative for more than 300 Pinellas County bus drivers. "We’ve had a few passengers threatened our drivers with the same fate as Thomas Dunn.”

Murphy hopes a death sentence deters riders from attacking drivers.

"We need to set an example and make sure people keep their hands off of our drivers.”

Dunn's death prompted coworkers and bus drivers across the Tampa Bay area to call for improving safety inside the buses.

Five months prior to his death, Dunn told the HART board he was concerned about his safety detailing an incident that happened on his bus.

On the same day the state attorney released the photos, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority and the Service Employee International Union agreed to install safety barriers for all 210 PSTA buses.

RELATED: PSTA approves new safety barriers on all buses to protect drivers

When Dunn was killed, he did not have a safety partition between himself and the passenger to protect him from the attack.