Local News

Video shows suspects in Durham bus prank

Posted July 23, 2014

Durham police released these images from surveillance video of three teens believed to have set a chemical explosion off on a Bull City Connector bus.

— Durham police were reviewing surveillance video Wednesday that shows three teens placing the bottle that exploded on a Bull City Connector bus Tuesday night, Sean Smith, general manager of the Durham Area Transit Authority, said.

Smith said the teens could be seen laughing as they placed something on the floor of the bus at around 9:30 p.m.


"They pushed the button to get off the bus, got off the bus (and) a few seconds later the contraption popped," Smith described. "It made a loud noise. The driver pulled over, then you see liquid going on the floor."

Smith and police investigating the incident have described the device as a chemical "bomb," although Smith clarified Wednesday that the result was not fire and smoke, but foam that did little damage to the bus.

"It wasn't smoke or any incendiary device," Smith said. "It just seemed like some childish prank."

Smith said the people involved appeared to be about 15 or 16 years old. 

One teen was wearing a purple baseball cap with a pink bill, a dark sweatshirt, green cargo shorts and white and purple sneakers. A second teen was wearing a light-colored T-shirt with writing and the number 22 on the front and light-colored shorts. The third teen was wearing a light blue shirt with writing on the front and light-colored long pants.

The bus company provided video to police investigating the incident, which resulted in closed streets in downtown Durham Tuesday night. West Main Street between Market and Mangum streets was closed for about two hours.

Smith said that the nature of the damage should not minimize the seriousness of the incident.

"It's no joking matter, particularly in today's climate," he said. "If something bad would have happened, somebody could have really been hurt behind it."

One passenger on the bus was exposed to the fumes from the chemicals but was not seriously injured, police said.

Police have yet to identify the culprits, but Smith said the surveillance video should help.

"The police should be able to apprehend these (people) if the community can come through and tell police who it is," he said.

Police have yet to release the video to the public.

Anyone with information about the bomb or the people who left it is asked to call Durham police at 919-560-4935, ext. 29416 or Crime Stoppers at 919-683-1200. Crime Stoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases, and callers never have to identify themselves.

Meanwhile, Smith said, bus drivers and other transit personnel would be reviewing policies for identifying suspicious behavior among their riders. 

"We are going to reinforce our protocols as far as packages and objects being brought on the bus," he said.


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  • Jack Miller Jul 25, 2014
    user avatar

    Yes it was probably the ol' Mentos and Diet Coke thing. It's interesting to see happen but it could potentially hurt someone. Also keeping in mind that the bus driver doesn't need to be distracted. Could have caused an accident.

  • Forthe Newssite Jul 24, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    you seem to be at odds with the definition of the word (look it up yourself). BUT I'd have to say that in the strictest sense yes, they are.

  • 68_dodge_polara Jul 24, 2014

    Watched the video, wow that was it?

  • raleighboy524 Jul 24, 2014

    This situation reminds me of a thought I had recently as I drove down one of Durham's many heavily littered and overgrown roadsides. Why aren't prisoners put to work on road gangs any more? A little labor in the hot sun or freezing cold might make the right impression.

  • gunmonkey Jul 24, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I drive from Benson to Cary everyday for work. Everyday I see motorist texting while driving, reading books while driving, speeding and weaving in and out of traffic between cars where there is barely enough room, and tailgating. All of these acts frighten the stuffing out of me. I guess they are all terrorists too

  • 68_dodge_polara Jul 24, 2014

    View quoted thread

    If Durham bus drivers were go crashing head on into crowds of pedestrians every time they heard a loud noise on there bus there wouldn't be a pedestrian left here. Just saying...

  • 1trhl Jul 24, 2014

    Mentos and diet coke, or The Works and aluminum foil?

  • Realthoughts Jul 24, 2014

    So what if the headline read, "Bus driver crashes head on into crowed of pedestrians after hearing loud noise on bus". I wonder if it would still be called a "prank"?

  • gotnoid Jul 24, 2014

    I'm glad there were no cameras around when I was their age! We did some "pranks" with firecrackers and sliver blasts that might be in the same category as this incident but times were less complicated then.
    I suggest that if they surrender, their punishment should be that they wash the transit buses all day for the next ten Saturdays.
    By the way, If I'd been on the bus they would need to spend a lot of time cleaning the seat that I was in.

  • 68_dodge_polara Jul 24, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Seriously? Now if they were of middle eastern descent that would raise speculation that they might be practicing for a terrorist attack but they're not and this was not terrorism. Drama much?