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Friends believe JTA bus driver killed because of sexual orientation

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Updated: 10/07/2013 8:02 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Police need your help solving a murder. Thomas "TJ" Kirby was found dead in the yard of an abandoned home in northwest Jacksonville Saturday morning.

"He was always smiling. Just a happy-go-lucky person," said Mikki Redding.

She choked back tears trying to understand what could have happened to her friend and co-worker. Kirby's body was discovered Saturday on McMillan Street in Northwest Jacksonville.

"There's nothing in this world the Kirby that I know could have done to cause anybody to do this to him," she said.

Redding and Kirby worked together for JTA. Action News has learned he was a bus driver there since May 30, 2008.

"I saw him on Thursday and i I was walking in and he stopped his car and he jumped out and he ran over and said 'mama!' And he gave me this big hug," she said.

Kirby's friends are convinced this is a case of cold-blooded murder and they are confident he knew his attacker. They think he was killed because of his sexual orientation.

"Knowing Jacksonville, probably," said a neighbor only wanting to be referred to as Donn. "That's a shame. I feel so bad for the parents more than anything having to lose their son."

Kirby's best friend Felix Garcia had a message for the person responsible.

"You're gonna get caught. And when you do let God pray on your soul cuz justice will be served for my friend," Garcia said.

Police are still trying to figure out if Kirby was killed there or if his body was dumped there. At this point they have not ruled this a hate crime.

Anyone with information in this case is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS. You will remain anonymous and could get a cash reward of up to $3,000 if your tip leads to an arrest.
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