911 transcript reveals work between police, Greyhound official to stem NH bomb scare

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A Greyhound official trying to handle a bomb scare on a bus called 911, reported an "Arabic" man with a walkie-talkie and told police they were pretending to have a mechanical problem until authorities arrived, according to a call transcript released Friday.

It's not clear whether the caller, described as an "area manager," was on the bus May 6. He or she reported that a number of people heard the man refer to a bomb.

Ultimately, no explosives were found, and police called it all a misunderstanding. The man identified as "Arabic" actually was from the African nation of Burundi, was speaking on a cell phone in Swahili and was too frightened by the mass police presence to get off the bus.

The transcript of the call was released Friday following a Right-to-Know request filed by The Associated Press and other media. An audio version of the call will be released at a later date, said Robert Sullivan, city attorney.

In the transcript, the 911 operator reports to police dispatchers that "there is an individual on the bus with a walkie-talkie who has made reference to a bomb."

The bus manager is quoted as saying: "He is Arabic and a number of people heard him. I've got the bus pulled over on the side of the road here at Hanover and High Street."

The manager says, "We're making it like it's got a mechanical problem until you get here."

Witnesses on the street said they saw the driver leave the bus, disable it and tell people to get away. Authorities evacuated buildings and streets and surrounded the bus with a bomb squad and sharpshooters.

"Okay, I've got the back; I've shut it down," a male voice says on the call.

Seventeen passengers remained on the bus; 16 got off safely about two hours later. But the Burundi passenger, who understood or spoke little English, refused to get off for hours until a relative was brought in as a translator.

Bonnie Bastian, a spokeswoman for Greyhound, said she did not know who the area manager mentioned in the call was.

Sullivan said police had planned to release more records Friday, but were told by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security that "the matter continues to be investigated at the federal level" and that release of the records would be inappropriate.

Portsmouth Police Chief David Ferland later said 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.

The bus began its trip in Bangor, Maine, made a scheduled stop in Portsmouth and was en route to Boston and then New York.