Justin Ryan McGriff now stands accused of resisting arrest in connection with the police investigation into the tragic death of a Tampa, Florida bus driver, who was stabbed by a passenger.
Although reports say McGriff allegedly matched the description of the Tampa bus driver stabbing suspect, he has not been accused of the stabbing itself at this time. The stabbing death of the driver occurred on a Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) bus, which is a city bus service in Tampa.
The slain bus driver’s name has not been released, but one television station is reporting that the driver had a long tenure driving city buses in Tampa.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Bus Passengers Provided Descriptions That Police Think Matches Justin Ryan McGriff, Reports Say
Grady Trimble, a journalist for WTSP-TV, wrote on Twitter, that Justin Ryan McGriff has “only been charged with resisting arrest, but they (Tampa police) say he matches the description provided by other passengers on the bus.”
The passengers gave that description to responding police officers. However, as noted, authorities have not yet accused Justin McGriff of stabbing the bus driver. According to tweets from journalist Trimble, who has been reporting on the crime in Tampa, McGriff is only facing the resisting charge, at least for now.
Jail records show that Justin McGriff was booked into the Hillsborough County Jail. He is on a hold for “DNA, research,” online records show. His address is given as Tampa, Florida.
Justin Ryan McGriff is 35-years-old. Other online records show he also has ties to Tulsa, Oklahoma and California. A Justin Ryan McGriff with the same name, month and year date of birth as the Tampa suspect has a criminal history in Tulsa for burglary. He also once sought a protective order against another man in Oklahoma.
2. The Bus Driver Was Stabbed by a Passenger Who Got Out of His Seat, Police Allege
The horrific set of events unfolded on the Tampa HART bus on May 18, 2019. The city bus was located “at the area of Nebraska Avenue and Lotus Avenue,” according to WFLA-TV.
The stabbing suspect was a passenger on a southbound HART bus when he “got up out of his seat and stabbed the bus driver,” reported Fox13.
3. Justin Ryan McGriff Was Located & Arrested Near the Interstate, Police Say
According to WTSP-TV, after stabbing the bus driver, the suspect ran off the bus.
“We were able to approach that person. He ran. Ended up on the embankment towards the interstate. We again chased him. Ended up on the side of the interstate on the northbound lanes. At that point we we’re able to apprehend him,” said Steve Hegarty, Tampa Police Public Information officer.
Justin Ryan McGriff comes into play here because police say they found him in the area where they believe the suspect ran, and he matched the witness descriptions.
The bus driver stabbing suspect ran “toward Interstate 275,” and that’s where police found McGriff, according to the television station. Fox13 reported that police apprehended McGriff “on the side of the northbound lanes of Interstate 275.”
4. The Suspect Is Accused of Arguing With the Bus Driver & the Motive Is Not Known
What happened on the city bus that led to such a violent attack?
According to BayNews9, there were less than 10 passengers on the bus at the time. However, they allegedly say the suspect was “arguing with the bus driver before stabbing him.”
The driver was stabbed in the throat, the television station reported.
5. HART’s Executive Officer Called the Tampa Bus Stabbing Death a ‘Horrific Matter’
The executive director of the bus service described people there as devastated by the bus driver’s death.
Chief Executive Officer of HART, Benjamin Limmer, released this statement, according ABC Action News:
“We are devastated by the tragic events that took place today involving our HART bus operator. We are working with the Tampa Police Department as they conduct their investigation into this horrific matter. We offer our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of the bus operator, as well as to all of our HART colleagues.”