Details emerge from Butte bus standoff, hostage situation

Posted at 10:21 PM, Jan 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-01 00:21:00-05

BUTTE – A 52-year-old man from Spokane remains in custody in Butte, where he’s accused of hijacking a bus about 12:30 Wednesday afternoon then engaging in a 9-hour standoff with police.

The suspect, armed with a handgun, held a 45-year-old Butte man hostage on the bus for about three hours before the hostage shoved the gunman and escaped from the bus. It made for a tense standoff.

“Anytime you have a guy who’s got a hostage, firearm, he says he has explosives, that’s a bad situation,” said Butte Sheriff Ed Lester.

This was an extremely challenging situation for police because the suspect’s actions and demands were extremely irrational.

“He had a number of grievances with society, as a rule, he wanted to speak with Ryan Zinke at one time, he wanted to speak to the governor at one time. They felt he was suffering from some paranoia and some mental health issues,” said Lester.

Police credit the fast actions of the bus driver, who after escaping from the bus, went around to the rear and disabled the engine so that the suspect could not drive away.

“He did a great job of disabling the bus and then helping us throughout the incident, so he certainly one of the heroes of this whole thing,” said Lester.

By the time the standoff reached its ninth hour, police found an opportunity to end it, so they shot some tear gas into the bus.

“He left the gun in the bus and of course the OC-10 and tear gas started taking effect on him and pushed him right out the front of the bus,” Lester said. “He was given verbal commands to take off his clothes so we could determine whether he had anything wired to him or not.”

Investigators found no evidence of a bomb. No injuries were reported in this incident.

Reporting by John Emeigh for MTN News