Pinellas Park police searching for man who attacked bus driver after he asked him to wear a mask

Pinellas County

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (WFLA) – A Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority bus driver was injured after police say a passenger attacked him.

Pinellas Park police say a man got on the bus about a mile and a half away from the Pinellas Park Transit Center Tuesday morning.

The bus driver asked the man to put on a mask, but he didn’t. Police say when the driver made it to the transit station, that’s when the man punched him in the face, then ran away.

Earlier this month, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority went back to pre-covid levels of service, which included wearing masks.

“The safety of our bus drivers remains our number one priority and we are working with law enforcement to ensure the person responsible for yesterday’s assault is arrested. It is current federal law that all passengers must wear a mask while using public transportation. The bus operator, who was not behind a safety barrier when the attack occurred, sustained minor injuries from this incident.”

Mitchell Jones takes the bus everyday. He says he heard about the attack from another passenger.

“They do us all favors and it’s the least we can do, just like that and you’re on the bus and it’s free,” Jones said. “Our safety depends on him.”

Other passengers, like Lorraine Sabbides, say bus drivers need better protection.

“If there was a way we could alert authority faster it would be better for the passenger,” Sabbides said.

The man is described as a black male, approximately 30 years of age, with a short beard and short dreadlocks.  He was wearing a white t-shirt with a grey Supreme satchel, Gatorade towel, and small dark sunglasses.

The Pinellas Park Police Department is asking for the community’s assistance with identifying and locating the subject who struck the bus driver. 

Anyone who has information regarding this incident is encouraged to contact Crime Stoppers (1-800-973-TIPS) or the Pinellas Park Police Department (727-369-7864). Please refer to agency case number 2021-38871.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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