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It is a trip home that Thomas Spinoso will never forget. Travelling from Manitoba to his home in New York City, he wasn‘t on the bus late Wednesday where the horrific murder and decapitation of a young man took place, but he said he was on one behind that stopped nearby while a standoff between police officers and the suspect unfolded.
“The cops had him on the bus and he was just – teasing them,” Spinoso recalled during a stopover Thursday in Thunder Bay. “They pulled us away from it and made us all go away and I don‘t know what happened after that.”
He claimed he saw the suspect with “the head in his hand and the machete in the other.‘‘
“We didn‘t know what to do – I‘m just sick about it,” Spinoso said, the emotion evident in his voice.
“I just want to go home. . . . You want to know something funny? I want to go to New York where it‘s safer,” he added.
Manitoba RCMP had no answers Thursday as to what prompted a man on a Greyhound bus to suddenly stand up and repeatedly stab his seatmate, behead him and carve up his body in front of horrified passengers.
Alain Rondeau, a Montrealer who said he was on the same bus as Spinoso, wasn‘t sure at first what had happened.
“My first reaction was that there‘s a fire on the bus,” he said. “That was not the reality, but you know the story.”
For Marc Andre Norman Tessier, who was travelling from Brandon to Ottawa, hearing about the grisly and seemingly random attack when his bus stopped in Thunder Bay was scary and unnerving.
“It made me sick, for sure,” Tessier said. “Even though I‘ve heard it again and again, it just gets sicker every time. I have too much of an active imagination.”
Another traveller who was on the same bus as Tessier said his family was worried when they first heard the news of the murder.
“My mom was just bawling on the phone,” said Randy, who was travelling from Yellowknife and did not want to give a last name. “She thought it was on my bus.”
He said he felt for the people on the bus who had to witness something so violent and said the incident may change his opinion on flying, something he doesn‘t normally do.
“I hear a guy from Nova Scotia tried to roll the bus off into the ditch, and now someone loses their head on a bus,” he said, shaking his head in disbelief.
The gruesome murder will likely bring back memories of the aforementioned incident, a bus crash near Upsala that took place on the evening of Dec. 23, 2000.
Shaun Davis, a resident of Pictou, N.S., who was 22 at the time, was charged with various offences after a Thunder Bay-bound Greyhound bus veered off the Trans-Canada Highway. Many of the 32 passengers on board were injured and a 74-year-old woman later died in hospital.
Following a lengthy trial, Davis was found not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder.
The Chronicle-Journal reported in 2000 that at the time of the crash, Davis had been living in Calgary and was intending to return home. Complaining of depression, he had gone to a walk-in clinic and obtained prescription medication.
During the ride through Northwestern Ontario he became agitated. After over-prescribing on the pills, he lunged at the driver and grabbed the steering wheel, forcing the bus off the road and down a ravine.