18-year-old charged with murder of JTA bus driver

Kenneth Hawkins found stabbed to death in driveway last month

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A JTA bus driver found dead in his driveway last month was stabbed during an argument by an 18-year-old man he knew, Jacksonville police said Friday.

Jamil Thomas has been charged with second-degree murder in Kenneth Hawkins' death.

Hawkins, 61, was found lying in his Biscayne Lake Drive driveway by a postal worker. It appeared he had been mowing his lawn not long before he was killed, police said.

Lt. Steve Gallaher said at a news conference Friday that investigators traced a call on Hawkins' cellphone the day of the stabbing to Thomas.

They interviewed Thomas, and he said he had met Hawkins at the Rosa Parks bus terminal and that Hawkins had become a mentor to him, Gallaher said.

Thomas told them that on the day of the murder, he went to Hawkins' house. Hawkins came inside after doing yard work, and the two had an argument that escalated to a fight with pushing and shoving, Gallaher said.

Gallaher said it did not appear to be a robbery.

Thomas told detectives that he was headed out the door in the kitchen, but grabbed a knife and stabbed Hawkins in the chest several times before running away.

Hawkins stumbled outside and collapsed in his driveway, Gallaher said.

“This is just his side of the story," Gallaher said. "Obviously, we don't have Mr. Hawkins' side.”

Hawkins' family released a statement Friday:

With respect from the Hawkins family, we first give thanks to the Almighty God, who provided the skills and diligence to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s department and its capable detectives to create a mindset to solve the murder of our family member. We realize that this is not a closure but a process, and an empty void in our hearts and soul, which only time and faith can heal. We have faith in the justice system and hope that the person who created the death of our family member will be sent to a place where our deceased family member will have a chance to ask, 'Why did you kill me?' before passing to his final stop. Our family would like to thank the city leaders, Jacksonville Transportation Authority, Community First Credit Union, MAD DADS, friends and people throughout the country for their support during our difficult time.”

JTA also released a statement after Friday's announcement:

The JTA is grateful an arrest has been made in the death of Kenneth Hawkins. Hopefully, the arrest will help bring some closure for his family, friends and coworkers. Our heartfelt sympathies continue to be with his family.”