Bob Cunningham thought one his passengers looked familiar, but couldn’t put his finger on the resemblance. He quietly checked a mugshot printout he’d brought with him on the bus and connected the dots, telling another bus driver to alert the police, who were waiting at the next stop. The suspect allegedly bludgeoned a smoke shop clerk in Riverside before stealing money from the register. Jacob Rascon reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on April 21, 2013.
A Riverside bus driver is credited with helping police catch a violent robbery suspect who boarded his bus in Corona.
Bob Owens, a Riverside Transit Agency bus driver, recognized Eric Cunningham's face from wanted posters.
Police said that on April 16, Cunningham, 45, used a hammer or mallet to bludgeon the 52-year-old owner of a Riverside tobacco shop and then grabbed cash from the register. The victim was hospitalized in serious condition, officials said.
On Thursday morning, Cunningham boarded the bus on Smith Street in Corona and took a window seat at the front of the bus, according to the Riverside Transit Agency.
Owens played it cool, taking care not to look back at Cunningham, appear nervous or report the crime over the radio, for fear Cunningham would hear.
"I didn't want to raise any suspicions," he told NBC4.
Owens waited until he could quietly ask another bus driver to alert police during a stop.
Minutes later, Owens made a stop on his route at the Galleria at Tyler, and officers were waiting. It was the end of the line for Cunningham.
Cunningham was being held on $1 million bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center. He is expected to be appear in court Monday to face felony charges.
"I'm glad he's off the street and won't be able to hurt anyone else," Owens said.
Owens was named the transit agency's 2012 bus driver of the year.