Victim Identified in Atlanta Bus Hijacking Incident, Suspect Charged with Murder

Victim Identified in Atlanta Bus Hijacking Incident, Suspect Charged with Murder

On June 11, 2024, 59-year-old Earnest Byrd Jr. was killed during a bus hijacking in Atlanta. The suspect, 39-year-old Joseph Grier, has been charged with Murder, 14 counts of Aggravated Assault, 14 counts of Kidnapping, Hijacking a Motor Vehicle, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.

Joseph Grier

The incident began at approximately 4:35 p.m. when Atlanta Police Zone 5 officers responded to reports of gunfire and a possible hostage situation on a Gwinnett County Transit Bus near 45 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd. NE. Upon their arrival, the bus fled the scene, prompting a pursuit that spanned multiple jurisdictions and involved several agencies.

During the pursuit, police employed various tactics to stop the bus, including deploying a STOP STICK device. An officer deployed the STOP STICK on the right side of the bus, which made contact with multiple tires. The device then got caught in the rear wheel between the tires and was dragged by the bus as it continued to flee.

The pursuit ended near 5107 Hugh Howell Rd. in Stone Mountain, GA, when the bus became inoperable. Once the vehicle stopped, a contact team was quickly assembled to assist with safely removing 14 passengers and the operator from the bus.

Joseph Grier was taken into custody without further incident. Upon clearing the bus, officers found Earnest Byrd Jr. with a gunshot wound. The police incident report states that Grier discharged his firearm at Byrd during the pursuit. Byrd was transported to the hospital by ambulance in critical condition and later succumbed to his injuries.

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