Bus Hijacker Shot, Killed After Leading Police on 320-Mile Chase With Graphic
COLTON, Calif. (AP) _ A Greyhound bus hijacker with apparent ″religious hallucinations″ was shot and killed today after taking eight passengers on a wild, 320-mile ride across two states, authorities said.
Raynaldo Andrade Gonzales, 33, was shot to death at 3:45 a.m. after a struggle in the driveway of his home, said Sgt. Dennis Casey of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
″It seems like he was determined to reach his home,″ Casey said.
Gonzales commandeered the bus in Phoenix and careened through the Arizona and California deserts for 4 1/2 hours before stopping on a residential street two miles north of Interstate 10 in this working-class community 50 miles east of Los Angeles.
The passengers - seven adults and an 18-month-old child - weren’t hurt.
Shortly before the bus was stolen, a man approached several Phoenix cab drivers outside the bus station, acting strangely and urgently seeking a ride to California, said Phoenix police Sgt. Kevin Robinson.
Describing the man’s delusions to Phoenix radio station KFYI, Desert Cab Co. owner Brian Shaw said: ″Jesus wanted him out of Arizona and to California, and that the devil was chasing up close behind him so he needed to leave Phoenix real quick.″
Shaw said cabbies refused service to the man because he was ″definitely out to lunch.″
A Colton police officer killed the hijacker as he jumped from the bus and tried to run, said police Capt. Bernie Lunsford. Paramedics took the body to Loma Linda University Medical Center.
Neighbor Mark Trimble, 18, said Gonzales had worked for a charter bus company and drove him on school field trips.
Gonzales’ sisters told neighbor Carol Morales that their brother had been stuck in Phoenix and was desperate to get home. The weeping women were hustled past reporters by authorities.
″He was going crazy and he wanted to get home,″ said Ms. Morales, who described Gonzales as a ″real nice and an easygoing guy ... you wouldn’t think he would do anything like this.″
FBI agents interviewed passengers aboard the bus for several hours.
The terror ride reaching speeds of 80 mph ended when the hijacker got boxed in by police on his small street.
Resident Mike Knopp, 25, said he was awakened by sirens and helicopters.
″I jumped out of bed, ran to the door and just as I got to the door I could hear a couple of bangs,″ said Knopp, who was told by police to stay inside.
Despite warnings, many curious residents rushed outside.
″It’s not like this neighborhood gets a lot of action - a 20-ton bus rolling through here with hostages,″ Knopp said.
Sheriff’s helicopters hovered over the bus as it roared through San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Five sets of spikes failed to puncture its tires. At one point, the bus veered into a California Highway Patrol car on Interstate 10 near Palm Springs.
″The bus crossed over several lanes to take out the unit,″ said CHP dispatcher Bill Brown. ″The bus hit him once and sent him into a spin out. The officer wasn’t hurt. After that, the units backed off.″
The driver was unarmed, said Sgt. Rick Knight, spokesman for the Arizona Department of Public Safety. ″Apparently the person has some type of religious hallucinations,″ the sergeant said.
The hijacking began at 11:20 p.m. PST when the man climbed into the driver’s seat while the bus was stopped in a downtown Phoenix terminal and the driver was in an office, said Phoenix police Sgt. Ron Gaillard.
Dallas-based Greyhound Lines Inc. said Gonzales wasn’t a paying passenger. The bus originally was destined for St. Louis.