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BROOKLYN (CBS) ? Police said a New York City bus driver was stabbed to death Monday afternoon by a rider apparently angry over not receiving a free transfer.
The driver of the B-46 bus, identified as 46-year-old Edwin Thomas, was operating the bus in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn and picked up the suspect around 12:30 p.m. Monday at Malcolm X Boulevard near Gates Avenue.
Police said the man swiped an invalid fare card and sat down on the bus, then asked for a transfer slip usually available to riders.
Police told CBS 2 HD that when the driver told the man that he didn’t pay for the ride and couldn’t get a transfer, the man punched the driver in the head and stabbed him to death while other riders looked on.
“It’s crazy because, I mean, the bus driver was cool,” witness Benjamin Stacking said. “He let me on. I was 50 cents short and he still let me on and gave me a transfer, so that’s kind of crazy.
“No reason to stab a bus driver if you are broke or have no money and can’t get a transfer. No reason to stab a person.”
The suspect fled on foot. Police are looking for a black male between 18 and 20 years old wearing black jeans and an Adidas jacket.
The incident marked the first time a NYC bus driver has been killed on the job in 27 years. Police are offering a $12,000 reward for any information on the suspect.
If you have any information, please call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.
Elliot Lee Sander, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s executive director and chief executive, said Thomas was a seven-year veteran and characterized him as “a valued employee” who would “be sorely missed.”
“Bus operator Thomas was killed while serving the people of New York City,” Sander said. “This is an extraordinary tragedy for the city and the MTA.”
Gov. David Paterson said in a statement he was “shocked and saddened” by the killing of Thomas, who the governor said “spent his career ensuring the safety of his passengers.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg described Thomas in a statement as a “good man who was good at his job of helping move New York City.”
The mayor said he spoke with Thomas’s son Jeffrey, offering the family his sympathies.
“In Edwin’s memory, I ask all New Yorkers riding public transit tonight or tomorrow to take an extra moment to say ‘Thank you’ to our New York City Transit workers and I ask everyone to keep Edwin Thomas’ family and loved ones in your prayers,” the mayor’s statement said.
The fatal attack on the bus driver, the mayor said, was “so shocking” partly because such violence has become rare. The last bus driver killed while on the job was Harvey Shield in 1981 in Brooklyn, the MTA said.
Assaulting an on-duty MTA employee is a felony.
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