Longtime SEPTA bus driver and U.S. Army Veteran Bernard Gribbin, 48, was known for being kind, dependable and always optimistic, his loved ones say
A Pennsylvania woman is charged with murder after allegedly shooting and killing a Philadelphia bus driver, say authorities.
Longtime SEPTA bus driver Bernard Gribbin, 48, died after being shot six times in the torso and throat while operating a Route 23 bus, the Philadelphia Police Department said in a statement.
The deadly incident took place at 10:27 a.m. Thursday when Gribbin pulled to a stop at 4600 Germantown Ave. in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood.
Surveillance video shows a woman getting off the bus, pull out a gun and then opening fire, police said, ABC 6 reports.
"She then fires a shot toward the bus driver, re-enters the bus and fires again,” Interim First Dep. Commissioner Frank Vanore said at a press conference.
“From what we see in the video, and it's very preliminary, it appears she gets on and off several times," he said.
Bystanders weren’t sure what was happening when shots first rang out.
"I heard that first boom and I thought the ramp had just came down too fast, and then immediately after that, you heard consecutive boom, boom, boom,"
"My wife said, 'Those are gunshots,'" Bilal El-Bedawi, who was driving near the bus at the time of the shooting, told NBC Philadelphia.
Passengers began fleeing the scene by jumping out of the bus windows and emergency exits, he said.
No other passengers or bystanders were struck by gunfire, police said.
The suspect fled the scene, walking several blocks before plainclothes SEPTA Police stopped her at Greene Street and Queen Avenue for investigation, Philadelphia police said in the statement.
“The firearm used was not recovered,” police said in the statement.
On Friday, police arrested Zhontay Capers, 21, and charged her with murder, Violation of the Uniform Firearms Act and related offenses.
— Steve Keeley (@KeeleyFox29) October 27, 2023
Gribbin was rushed to Albert Einstein Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries. He was pronounced dead at 10:36 a.m.
“As you can imagine this is a very traumatic incident for the entire SEPTA family,” SEPTA Police Chief Charles “Chuck” Lawson said, NBC Philadelphia reports. “Quite frankly, we’re shell-shocked.”
SEPTA bus operator Kia Dean said, "My stomach has been in knots since I got the word on Thursday," CBS Philadelphia reports.
Gribbin, a U.S. Army veteran, had been a SEPTA employee for 12 years. He lived in Abington with his wife.
On Saturday, SEPTA employees joined Gribbin’s family and friends at the SEPTA Midvale Depot to honor his life, ABC 6 reports.
"Excellent employee, excellent friend and excellent coworker, and a family member that will be missed," Chauntann Reid, a SEPTA Midvale District chairperson said, ABC 6 reports.
Gribbin had just returned to work after being sick when he was killed.
"We all come here just to take care of our families just like Bernard did," Keith Bradford, the SEPTA Midvale District union representative, said, ABC 6 reports. "None of us expect that when we put our uniform on in the morning that will be the last time we will come back."
His co-workers remembered him for being helpful, dependable and optimistic.
"Bernard would laugh at us, and tell us to keep our head up and keep our foot on the gas," Bradford said, ABC 6 reports.
"He would say, 'You know what guys, keep on pushing,'" said Noel Sanchious, a SEPTA supervisor. "'Keep on going. Stay strong. Stay motivated. Despite all that's going on in the world today, we can't stop here.'"
It is unclear whether Capers has retained an attorney who can speak on her behalf.
Several days after the shooting, Caper's family sent their condolences to the Gribbin family in a statement, Fox 29 reports. Her family said that she was experiencing a "mental health crisis" at the time of the shooting.
Police are still investigating. Authorities haven’t yet revealed a possible motive.
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