ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- A Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority bus driver is being hailed a hero for remaining calm and keeping passengers safe, when a ranting man, who admitted to being on drugs, got on the bus and started acting out.
PSTA driver Garry Taylor says he pulled up to the 49th Street North bus stop across from the courthouse. He saw a man, identified by deputies as Lance Martin, screaming, swearing and waving his hands in the air, as if he wanted to fight. Taylor watched as Martin jumped on the bike rack and started shaking the bus.
Erratic man boards PSTA bus
“The guy was out here at the bus stop flailing his arms around and acting crazy. He jumps on the front of my bus like, starts banging and looking at the people. He runs around here, I shut the door in his face initially, and then it opens and he gets on,” explains Taylor. “He was clearly a dysfunctional kind of crazy guy."
A passenger took cell phone video as Martin walks up and down the aisle, punches another passenger, while yelling, “Save your soul. Illuminati! I’m going to die!” Martin isn’t wearing a shirt, only shorts and socks.
“I let communications know I was leaving the driver seat for fear that he was going to attack me or whatever. When I was out of the driver seat, he jumped in the driver seat, and starts pumping the brake pedals and steering the bus. I was also intent on securing the vehicle, which I did, cut the ignition, which ensures the safety of my passengers in crisis,” says Taylor.
PSTA says Taylor kept his cool and was able to get all of the other passengers off the bus and radio PSTA dispatch to call the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
“They have enough information to send the police out and secure the situation,” says Taylor.
Deputies say when they arrived, Martin continued to stomp on the gas pedal, pushing and pulling at the wheel, in an attempt to steal the bus. They also say he wouldn’t listen to commands to get out of the bus.
As deputies removed Martin from the bus, they say he started kicking at them and kept repeating, “Don’t kill me!” One deputy says Martin pulled away from his custody.
The deputy says he tried to hit Martin in the shoulder but struck Martin in the jaw. Eventually, deputies restrained him in shackles and handcuffs.
Paramedics took him to a hospital to be checked out. Deputies say Martin admitted to taking “large quantities of Molly and spice earlier in the day.”
When asked if Taylor feels like a hero, he replies, “Not really. This is all in a day’s work. We're using our own experience and what we’re taught by PSTA to keep the situation under control and stay on the right side of it. They did give me an accommodation, and I appreciate that PSTA, thank you."
He’s been a driver for 40 years, between New Zealand and Pinellas County. Taylor says he’s never seen anything like this and never wants to see it again.
“Tomorrow's another day,” Taylor says.
Martin remains in the Pinellas County Jail facing charges of grand theft auto and resisting arrest with violence.
Pinellas County Jail records show the 27-year-old Martin has been arrested at least 17 times dating back to 2008. Charges include: felon in possession of a firearm, loitering/prowling, grand theft of a firearm, resisting arrest without violence, carrying a concealed firearm, possession of marijuana, robbery, battery, driving with a suspended license, disorderly intoxication, resisting without obstruction, possession of Xanax, grand theft, petit theft, possession of oxycodone, sale of a firearm with an altered serial number, failure to appear, retail theft, DUI, disorderly conduct, and reckless driving.