Monday, June 13, 2011

Kneeling, praying Non-citizen makes bomb threat on DC Metro red line train - causing panic; Hijab quotient 100%

From the Washington Post:
2:33 p.m. Update: The 51-year-old Mclean woman has been “involuntarily committed” at a facility that “has better resources to handle mental issues,” Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said.
— Dana Hedgpeth
1:50 p.m. Update:
The bomb scare at Rockville happened at 7:45 a.m. when an eight-car train bound for Twinbrook was leaving the station, according to Metro Transit Deputy Police Chief Ron Pavlik.
A 51-year-old woman who lives in McLean dropped to her knees and said, “You killed my family. Now I’m going to kill you all,” Pavlik said
Passengers on the train alerted the operator over the intercom, and the operator stopped the train, Metro said. The suspect got off the train with other passengers and did not resist when she was apprehended in the Kiss & Ride area by a Federal Protective Security officer, Pavlik said. The woman was pointed out to police by customers, according to Metro spokesman Dan Stessel.
Stessel said the woman is undergoing a mental health evaluation at a local hospital, which can take four to six hours. About 35 passengers exited the stopped train and began walking in the track bed to Twinbrook, Stessel said. Once operators realized passengers were in the rail bed the power was immediately shut down, he said, and remained suspended for two hours.
Stessel said the woman is a not U.S. citizen but she is a permanent resident. Her name is being withheld because charges are pending depending on her mental health evaluation, he said.
“During a mental health evaluation, police are not permitted to talk to the individual,” Stessel wrote in an e-mail. “As a result, we have been unable to get additional information about what the woman meant when she said ‘You killed my family…’ ”
There were between 250 to 300 customers aboard the inbound train at Rockville when the incident happened, Stessel said. There were a “handful” of customers who were going to Shady Grove on the other track, he said.
 — Dana Hedgpeth

Original post: [This post has been updated, 12:15 p.m.]
A woman who allegedly made a bomb threat aboard a Red Line train Monday morning has been transported to a local hospital for a mental health evaluation, a Metro official said.
Metro and emergency officials said there was no evidence that there was an explosive device, but the threat shut down rail service at Rockville Station. The station reopened about 9:45 a.m., according to reports from Metro.
Trains were temporarily stopped between Shady Grove and Grosvenor. Shuttle bus service was established to transport passengers. Dan Stessel, a Metro spokesman, said a passenger made “a claim of a bomb threat” around 7:30 a.m. at Rockville Station. Passengers were evacuated, and Metro Transit Police were summoned.
“At this point we have no evidence of an explosive device at Rockville,” Stessel said.
Passengers who were on the train described a chaotic scene.
Tarek Nasser, a commuter, said the woman who allegedly caused the disturbance boarded the train at Shady Grove. The woman dropped to her knees and appeared to start praying. Later, the woman, who wore a hijab, began ranting about Muslim Americans on a cellphone, Nasser said.
Nasser recounted that the woman said, “‘I’m going to destroy the office.’” At another point, Nasser said the woman said “‘I’m going to visit the tomb at Rockville station.’”
Before the train left the Rockville Station, Nasser said the woman said, “‘God bless you all’” and got off the train. The doors closed and the train began moving. At that point, a passenger called the driver on an intercom, Nasser said. The train stopped and riders began panicking, Nasser said. 
Commuters attempted to flee from the car where the threat was made. Passengers moved toward the front of the train, passing between the doors that connect the cars, several passengers said.
“I’ve never seen such panic before,” said Scott Brooks, a passenger. [The people at the front of the group] didn’t stop to explain. You could see they were really scared.”
Robin Ratliff, who lives in Rockville and works downtown as a staff assistant for a human resources firm, said she was on the first car of the train headed to downtown this morning when the incident occurred.
Ratliff said people started “pouring in” from the third car of the train, where the woman who made the alleged threat was.
“They were pounding on the trian operator’s door saying let us off; stop the train.” But Ratliff said some passengers opened the door of the train and managed to get out on the track bed.
“The operator was telling central [command] she couldn’t move the train because ‘there’s people on my track.’ ”
“People were panicked and running, trying to get off,” Ratcliff said.
Ratcliff said she did not see the woman who made the alleged threat, but heard other passengers running into the first car where Ratcliff was, saying the woman said “Praise Allah. I’m going to kill the world,” before throwing a backpack onto the train and exiting.
Ratcliff said she and others were evacuated from the train and the station before the station was shut down for several hours. Ratcliff said she went back home to let things settle down before returning around 10 and heading to work.
As service returned to normal along the Red Line, a few customers said they were relieved it wasn’t a serious incident but expressed concern about safety on Metro.
Kathy Josephson, was was waiting at Rockville Station for a bus, said she would like to see more police and security in the transit system.
“Every time you go on Metro you’re taking a chance when you ride with your safety and security,” she said. Josephson said she hoped the woman would be charged with making a threat so it would deter others.
“You don’t play around and make threats like that,” she said. “It makes me nervous. They’re playing with my life and they should be in jail. There’s too many people doing crazy stuff.”
Denise Brown, the station manager on duty at Rockville, said she arrived at 4:40 this morning. She received a call about the bomb threat around 7:30.
Brown said said she went up to the platform to help people disembark from the stopped train.
“It was busy and crazy because people wanted to get off,” she said. She said the platform and station were evacuated in about 40 minutes, as authorities took over the scene.
She said most people were calm.
“I just wanted everybody to get out of here so nothing would happen to them,” Brown said.