Local News

Gunman hijacks Greyhound bus on I-85

Posted February 3, 2011 10:44 p.m. EST
Updated February 4, 2011 11:31 a.m. EST

— A gunman hijacked a Greyhound bus headed to Raleigh Thursday night, but all the passengers and driver managed to escape unharmed, authorities and witnesses said.

State troopers identified the suspect as Jose Flores, 32.

Vance County Sheriff Peter White said that a passenger from Arlington, Va., walked up to the front of bus no. 6516 along Interstate 85 South in Warren County. He asked the driver to be let off, then became irate and pulled out a gun, passengers said.

The man claimed he had a bomb and said, "If I don't get you with the gun, I will get you with the bag," White said. He ordered passengers to get off the bus, but most stood frozen.

"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," passenger Xavier Little said. "He just kept yelling, 'Y'all got a problem? 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 an example," Fusco said.

The driver pulled over on the side of I-85, near exit 223 to Manson-Drewery Road, and all but two of the 35 passengers on board got out through the rear emergency exit of the bus, White said. The hijacker then ordered the bus driver to keep going.

A passing driver realized what was going on, called 911 and followed the bus until state troopers could catch up, White said.

Authorities were waiting when the driver pulled off onto U.S. Highway 1 Business in Henderson and stopped at a Sunoco gas station on Norlina Road. Officers with drawn guns surrounded the bus, nearby residents said.

The driver and remaining two passengers managed to get off the bus, and authorities used a stun gun on the suspect before taking him into custody, White said.

Troopers said that they arrested Flores and handed him over to the custody of the Warren County Sheriff's Office.

Some nearby residents voluntarily left their homes due to the bomb threat. A search turned up no explosives on the bus.

The passengers were taken to a fire station in Vance County, and then a Greyhound bus took them to Raleigh.

Authorities have not commented on a motive, and passengers said it wasn't clear what the man wanted.

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

Passengers said they were nervous to continue on their trips with Greyhound.

"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 checking nobody. It might slow things down, but this ain't right."

Calls to Greyound Friday morning have not been returned.