Police say 2 charged in NH bus bomb scare; 1 for resisting arrest, 1 for obstructionBy Kathy Mccormack, AP
Friday, May 7, 2010
Police: 2 charged in NH bus bomb scare
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — A man whose overheard phone conversation on a Greyhound bus sparked a bomb scare and daylong standoff won’t face criminal charges, but two other passengers were arrested for their behavior after leaving the bus.
John Smolens, of Lewiston, Maine, was charged with resisting arrest for refusing to follow orders after getting off the Maine-to-New York bus, police said Friday. Calvin Segar, of New York City, was charged with obstructing government administration for allegedly giving police a fake name. Both were due in court Friday afternoon.
The bomb scare began Thursday morning when a passenger overheard a man speaking a foreign language on a cell phone, police said. The passenger then heard someone say — in English — that there was a bomb on board and decided to call 911, authorities said.
The 911 call was made around 11:15 a.m., prompting authorities to evacuate buildings and streets and to surround the bus with a bomb squad and sharpshooters.
No explosives were found, and Portsmouth Police Chief David Ferland emphasized that the case was not terrorism-related. But he said the response was appropriate, especially in light of the recent failed car bombing in Times Square.
“We have a bus that’s en route to New York City. We have an incident that occurred in New York City not too long ago. I think it was an appropriate, measured response,” he said at a news conference.
The other 16 passengers and the driver got off safely, but the man whose phone conversation prompted the scare refused to leave.
Police said the man, who is from Burundi and speaks Swahili, was frightened. He understands some English but is not comfortable speaking it, Ferland said.
A relative was brought in as a translator. The man emerged from the bus at about 8:40 p.m., shirtless and in camouflage pants, his hands held high over his head.
“I do not know the reasons why he was nervous with police,” Ferland said. “He comes from a different country. We are trained to understand that people react differently.”
The bus began its trip in Bangor, Maine, made a scheduled stop in Portsmouth and was en route to Boston and then New York.
Passenger Danielle Everett, 20, of Poland, Maine, said she didn’t see anything suspicious on the bus.
“It really wasn’t any big deal,” said Everett, who was met at the Portsmouth police station by her father.
Associated Press writers Norma Love and Holly Ramer in Concord, N.H., and John Curran in Montpelier, Vt., contributed to this report.
Tags: Arrests, Bomb Threats, Maine, Mass Transit Systems, Municipal Governments, New Hampshire, New York, New York City, North America, Portsmouth, Transportation, United States