Police: Two charged in NH bus bomb scare

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PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) — Police say there will be criminal charges stemming from a daylong bomb scare in Portsmouth, N.H. One will be charged for refusing to get off the bus, another charged for obstruction.

Police Capt. Mike Schwartz said a court hearing was scheduled for later Friday, but he did not know how many people were charged or the specific counts.

A person with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press on Friday that the bomb scare was sparked by another passenger who called 911 believing a non-English-speaking rider had mentioned a bomb. That passenger was a foreigner who was too scared to get off the bus, said the person, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

U.S. Attorney John Kacavas said the passenger was from Africa.

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The 911 call around 11:15 a.m. prompted authorities to evacuate buildings and streets and to surround the bus with a bomb squad and sharpshooters. The other 16 passengers and the driver got off safely, but the non-English-speaking man refused to leave until about 8:40 p.m.

He emerged from the bus shirtless and in camouflage pants, with his hands held high over his head. He then went to his knees before soon getting up and appearing to follow orders from police to walk away from the bus.

He was taken into custody and was being questioned, but the case is not terrorism-related, Portsmouth Police Chief David Ferland said at a late-night news conference during which he refused to answer questions.

The person familiar with the investigation said the passenger is unlikely to face criminal charges. No explosives were found on the bus, which began its trip in Bangor, Maine, made a scheduled stop in Portsmouth and was en route to Boston and then New York.

More information was expected to be released at a midday news conference.

Several federal agencies had responded to the scene. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Harold Ort said only that there was an “ongoing issue” and that ICE was helping the investigation.

Throughout the day, police kept the curious at a distance and gave little information of what was happening. They said they established a way to communicate with the remaining passenger but wouldn’t give details.

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 concerned father.

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Associated Press writers Norma Love and Holly Ramer in Concord, N.H., and John Curran in Montpelier, Vt., contributed to this report.

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