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Virginia man charged in Greyhound bus hijacking

Posted February 4, 2011

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— Warren County authorities said Friday that they have charged a man in connection with the hijacking of a Greyhound bus along Interstate 85 late Thursday.

Jose Flores, 32, of 54 Eighth St. in Arlington, Va., faces one count of kidnapping, according to officials with the Warren County Detention Center. His bond hasn't been set yet, and he was scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 16.

Warren County Sheriff Johnny Williams said more charges are pending and federal agents are looking into whether Flores is a legal citizen. 

Passengers on the Greyhound bus from Richmond, Va., to Raleigh said that it wasn't clear what the suspect wanted.

"He was just irate, (didn't) make no sense," passenger Xavier Little said. "Nobody understood what was the purpose. He kept saying, 'I want to go to the courthouse, the nearest courthouse.'"

Passengers said that Flores had been on the bus since it left northern Virginia, but nothing untoward happened until the bus crossed the state line from Virginia into North Carolina.

Vance County Sheriff Peter White said that a passenger asked the driver a question, then pulled out a gun along I-85 South in Warren County. He also implied that he had a bomb.

"Out of nowhere this guy gets up from the back of the bus and walks to the front. He's irate and says, 'I want to get off,'" Little said.

Little said the driver told the man to sit down and he refused. The driver pulled the bus over, but the man said he did not want to get off the bus there.

"He let the bus stop and was like, 'If anybody has a problem and wants to get off, go to the back of the bus,'" Little said. "One passenger, he put the gun to her chest and was like, 'You ain't my first victim.'"

Passengers said they were frozen with fear.

"We were too scared. We didn't know if he was going to shoot us in the back of the head for getting off the bus," Little said. "He just kept yelling, 'Y'all got a problem? Y'all going to do something? I got nine shots, and I'll start killing right from the front.'"

Robert Fusco said the hijacker then pointed the gun at him and three other passengers in the front. "He talked about shooting us as an example," Fusco said.

Little said people started to climb out of the back emergency exit, with some getting injured while trying to escape.

All but two of the approximately three dozen passengers got out before the driver continued on, White said.

Warren County dispatchers said that a passing motorist noticed the situation, called 911

Quentin Hunt said he noticed something was wrong when he saw people climbing out of the bus. 

"My little brother brought it to my attention that somebody's leg was hanging out the window. So, I looked again and people started coming out of the windows," Hunt said. 

Motorist follows hijacked bus Motorist follows hijacked bus

Hunt said one the passengers knocked on his window and asked him to call 911. When Hunt saw the bus turn around to leave, he felt compelled to do something. 

"I don't know what made me do it, but I started following the bus and stayed in close contact with 911," he said.

Hunt stayed with the bus until deputies and state troopers could catch up. When the bus stopped at a gas station in Henderson, officers with drawn guns surrounded it.

The driver and two passengers got away safely, and authorities used a stun gun on Flores before taking him into custody, White said. No one was injured, and a search turned up no explosives on the bus.

Hijacked Greyhound bus passenger, Robert Fusco Passengers recall bus hijacking

Greyhound sent another bus to take the passengers to Raleigh. Passengers said they were nervous to continue on their trips.

"I still got a long way to go, and these people expect me to get on another bus. Would you get on another bus after you had a gun stuck to your head?" Fusco said.

Fusco, who was traveling to visit family in Florida, called for increased security measures on buses.

"Something's got to be done. I could have been dead tonight," he said. "Anybody could walk up on here on a Greyhound bus and have a gun on them and without any (security checks). It might slow things down, but this ain't right."

Little agreed. 

"There's no sort of security as far as baggage to get on buses and it makes me feel like they need to get control of that," he said. 

Calls to Greyhound Friday morning have not been returned.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • flyguync Feb 4, 2011

    Here's something for those that advocate screenings at the bus station - every passenger gets cleared through security, then some armed person forces their way onto the bus at a traffic light - now what? Buses are not airplanes and do not travel in the same "sterile" environment from point to point. The screening process would not be completely foolproof and would be very costly.

  • carolinagirl1976 Feb 4, 2011

    rdmcswai: "And yes, actually, I voted for Obama."

    How's that hope and change thing working out for 'ya?

    Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Hope you won't allow yourself to be fooled in 2012!

  • Ohprah Feb 4, 2011

    I don't believe in gun control and I certainly didn't vote for Obama but your guys are fools. If someone else pulled a gun on that bus there is no telling how many people would have been killed instead of NONE.

  • rdmcswai Feb 4, 2011

    Mr. Sensible -

    Gotta agree with you on this one. My dad has his concealed carry and practices gun safety whenever it's on him. Without a doubt, this would not have happen had my father (or any responsible, law abiding, concealed permit carrier) been on that bus.

    And yes, actually, I voted for Obama.

  • Mr. Sensible Feb 4, 2011

    OK you gun control folks. How many crimes ya seen here that were committed by people who aren't supposed to have guns. THINK,,, Put a couple of armed citizens on that bus and this probably never would have happened. Put a few armed citizens in the streets and a whole lot of things probably wouldn't be going on.

  • manuelyerica Feb 4, 2011

    Happyheart....WELL SAID!

  • louisewilliams Feb 4, 2011

    how about these express buses that run from Raleigh to Chinatown in NY in 8.5 hrs-fee is $30.00.maybe their drivers are armed.They havent seemed to have published problems.

  • shortcake53 Feb 4, 2011

    What a scarey trip for the others on the bus. Something like that can stick with a person a long time. I hope no one suffers from after effects of such an ordeal. I was working at a mall when someone fired shots and people were killed. I watch every move someone makes when I am in a crowd now. You just never forget.

  • shahidn05 Feb 4, 2011

    TSA needs to instal scanners at the bus stop and pat down procedure

  • paginasecunda Feb 4, 2011

    ""No. If you don't feel safe, find other methods. Do not take away my fourth amendment. It's criminal what they do to us at the airports"

    Sorry, don't travel then."

    When I travel, I accept the risks. Every time I get in a car, I know I could die, but I'm okay with that, because the benefit of driving where I am going outweighs the risk of me dieing on that trip. I am getting in a car to go shopping tonight, I might die and I might be hijacked. That doesn't mean that cars should be banned, or that a traffic enforcer should be required to ride along with me on every trip. If I thought driving was too dangerous, I just wouldn't go. It is the same way with busses and planes. I feel confident that the risk of somebody intentionally harming me on that trip is very low. If I felt otherwise, I would refrain from traveling on that vehicle, not require that everybody lets someone feel them up before I travel.