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Tampa Man Attacked HART Driver with Box Cutter, Police Say

James L. Ambrose | Tampa Police | Arrests

A Good Samaritan intervened in the fray, according to Tampa police.

TAMPA – A Good Samaritan helped save a HART driver during an attack from a rider who was enraged when the bus’ cash payment machine malfunctioned, the Tampa Police Department said.

The driver, whose name was not released, required medical care to save his life, which included emergency surgery to repair damage to his leg. Both he and bus passengers felt the effects of mace, which the suspect also used during the attack, officers said.

James L. Ambrose, 65, of Tampa, was charged with one count each of Aggravated Battery with Great Bodily Harm and Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon. Police said Ambrose accidentally cut his own
leg during the attack.

Police said Ambrose boarded HART bus No. 1204 about 2:36 p.m. Wednesday (Nov. 20) and tried to pay for his ride by placing bus fare into the cash payment machine adjacent to the bus driver’s seat. A malfunction occurred with the cash payment machine and Ambrose became enraged.

Ambrose attacked the HART bus driver with a red box cutter and can of mace.

A Good Samaritan, John Phelps, was in the rear of the bus and saw the attack. Phelps came to the front of the bus and used a small, foldable shopping cart to create a barrier and push back Ambrose as he was attacking the driver with the box cutter. Phelps kept Ambrose at bay and waved off some of the bus riders.

Phelps continued to keep himself between Ambrose and other riders remaining on the bus. Ambrose, at one point, lunged at Phelps with the box cutter before fleeing the scene.

Ambrose was caught at E Juneau Street and N Alaska Street. When officers arrested him, they said Ambrose said, “I’m going to prison for 15 years for this.”

Witnesses were able to positively identify Ambrose as the person who stabbed and cut the driver and sprayed the mace.

Tampa Police | Crime | Arrests | Tampabay News | News Tampa

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