updated 12/2/2008 10:34:46 AM ET 2008-12-02T15:34:46

New York City police are questioning a man in the killing of an on-duty bus driver who was stabbed in front of horrified passengers.

No charges have been filed, but a person of interest is being interviewed at a police precinct.

The victim, 46-year-old Edwin Thomas, was driving the B-46 bus in Brooklyn when the attacker got on shortly after noon Monday.

Police say the man swiped an invalid fare card and sat down before asking for a transfer slip. When Thomas told the man he didn't pay for the ride and couldn't get a transfer, the man punched him in the head and stabbed him in the torso.

Thomas was rushed to a hospital, where he died. The attacker ran away.

Police are offering a $12,000 reward for any information on the culprit.

Passenger Benjamin Stacking told television reporters that he heard the commotion.

"It's crazy because the bus driver was cool," Stacking said. "He let me on. I was 50 cents short. He let me on and gave me a transfer."

'Extraordinary tragedy'
Thomas was a seven-year, "valued employee" who will be sorely missed, said Elliot Lee Sander, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's executive director and chief executive.

"Bus operator Thomas was killed while serving the people of New York City," Sander said. "This is an extraordinary tragedy for the city and the MTA."

The MTA said the last killing of an on-duty city bus driver was in 1981.

Gov. David Paterson and Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued statements mourning Thomas and praising his work for public transportation.

"In Edwin's memory, I ask all New Yorkers riding public transit tonight or tomorrow to take an extra moment to say 'thank you' to our New York City Transit workers and I ask everyone to keep Edwin Thomas' family and loved ones in your prayers," the mayor's statement said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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