[UPDATE] Tallahassee, Florida - October 25, 2011
The big question on many people's minds: How was a man able to steal a StarMetro bus in Tallahassee on Monday morning, drive it to Quincy and crash it?
One man says, "How do you steal a StarMetro?
That's what everyone wants to know.
It started at the C.K. Steele Plaza in Tallahassee, and ended with a crashed bus in Quincy.
Tallahassee Police say 26-year-old James Shaw stole a StarMetro bus around 11:00 Monday morning.
StarMetro administrators say that Shaw just walked onto the bus; and before the driver could talk him out of it, Shaw took off.
Regular StarMetro bus rider Brittany Claybrooks says, "What you'll see a lot of the bus drivers will step off the bus and do various things while the bus is running. Sometimes they close the doors, sometimes they don't. So, I can see it being easy to do."
Tuesday, Eyewitness News noticed one bus, which was loaded with passengers, sat at the terminal unattended for about six minutes.
When the next driver came, all he had to do was gently pull the door open to get in--possibly just as easily as Shaw got on board.
We're told that the driver and police officer on site kept yelling for him to get out of the driver's seat.
Shaw managed to push the right buttons and drive away.
One local man, only identified as Mark, says, "What if that guy was a terrorist and he had all kind of C4 in there and drove downtown in front of the capitol? If this guy is mentally touched, and he can steal a bus that simple, where are we at?"
Shaw drove down West Tennessee Street and made it all the way to Quincy.
He crashed when a deputy pulled in front of him.
No passengers were inside.
StarMetro bus rider Ella Andrews says, "I can't imagine what was on somebody's mind to just think that they can take a bus?"
That question has not been answered. Police say they do not know *why* Shaw stole the bus.
StarMetro's executive director says there are procedures in place to keep the buses and riders safe.
He says if it's found that StarMetro made a mistake, they will put measures in place to keep incidents like this from happening again.
Shaw is still in the Gadsden County Jail.
Tallahassee, Florida - October 24, 2011 - 6:12pm -
Police say a man hopped on a StarMetro bus, drove it down one of Tallahassee's busiest streets, crossed the Gadsden County line and crashed.
Before the StarMetro bus crashed at the intersection of East Jefferson and South Patton Streets in Quincy Monday morning, one man says he saw the bus going down West Tennessee Street in Tallahassee.
The man only wants to be identified as Mark. He says, "He came back over into my left-hand lane, hit my truck, backed off, got into the right-hand lane, then took off down Tennessee Street. Well, you don't hit my truck. I've had it all my life, you just don't do that."
Mark says he called 911 and stayed on the phone giving them a play-by-play while he was hot on the bus's trail, driving down the highway.
"There was a work crew there and cones were scattering and people were running." Mark says.
Mark says he knew it wasn't a StarMetro driver behind the wheel because of the reckless driving. He also says he caught a glimpse of the driver and noticed he had twists in his air and was wearing camouflage jacket.
A deputy chased the bus shortly after it entered Gadsden County.
Mark says he continued to talk to a 911 dispatcher. He says, "I said, but he's not going to stop this bus. One car with the lights flashing isn't going to work. Get me some help out here. I said, we're up to 75 now and he's pulling away, so, he's probably doing 80 or 85. I said, if he gets into Quincy, he's going to kill somebody."
A deputy pulled in front of the bus, which caused it to crash in front of Pro Car Sales, LLC.
James and Rose Barton own a business next door.
Mr. Barton says, "I come up to see what was going on. I looked out the door and there was a metro bus headed toward me, knocking down utility poles and mowing down the fence on the neighbor's lot here."
Mrs. Barton says, "It sounds horrible. You just hear all kinds of popping and snapping and crashing and I can just feel it coming through on us. We look out and there's guns drawn."
Deputies drew their guns and arrested 26-year-old James Shaw before he had the chance to get off the bus and run.
Police say Shaw had gotten on board at the main terminal in Tallahassee.
No one was on the bus for the more than 22-mile drive.
Power lines had to be restored and the business where the bus crashed has a lot of repairs to do. But, everyone says they're just glad no one got hurt.
No word yet on why Shaw stole the bus.
Shaw is from Quincy.
** Note: Click above for Picture of James Shaw **
Tallahassee, Florida - October 24, 2011 -11:40am -
A man steals a StarMetro bus from the main terminal on Tennessee Street and then crashes in Quincy, Florida according to the Gadsden County Sheriff's Office.
The suspect, James Curtis Shaw, Jr. of Quincy, has been arrested. He crashed the bus in front of Pro Car Sales LLC in Quincy when he hit the fence in front of the business.
Eyewitness News has a reporter heading to the crash site. Stay with WCTV for details.
This morning at approximately 11:00a.m. a black male, wearing a camouflage jacket with “twists” in his hair, boarded a Star Metro bus at C.K. Steele Plaza and began to drive westbound on Tennessee Street. A pursuit was initiated until information was provided that the suspect was the only occupant. At this point the pursuit was called off, placing the safety of the public above the need to stop a vehicle thief.
The driver, later identified as James Shaw Jr., continued westbound on West Tennessee Street, striking another vehicle at the intersection of West Tennessee Street and Appleyard Drive. Instead of stopping, Shaw continued driving the bus westbound and entered the city limits of Quincy, Florida. The bus crashed at the intersection of East Jefferson Street and South Patton Street, hitting a light pole. Deputies with the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office were able arrest Shaw before he fled the scene. Shaw has been booked into the Gadsden County Jail at this time and charges are pending.
"With a fast response and the cooperation of the surrounding agencies, we were able to apprehend this criminal. I would like to thank all the departments involved for their help today in keeping the public safe." said Chief Dennis Jones.
Tallahassee, Florida - October 24, 2011 -11:25am -
A man stole a StarMetro bus from the main terminal on Tennessee Street, according to Officer David Northway with the Tallahassee Police Department. He’s described as a black man about 25 years old with twists in his hair and wearing a camouflage jacket. Police don’t believe there is anyone else on the bus. TPD did give initially give chase down Tennessee Street, but for safety reasons called it off. The stolen bus was last seen heading west bound on Highway 90.