Man arrested after gun fired in BAT bus

Posted March 03, 2010, at 11:33 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A Milford man was arrested late Wednesday afternoon after he fired a revolver on a BAT Community Connector bus bound for the Old Town-Orono area, according to Bangor police.

Though no one was injured, the bullet went clear through the side of the bus, emerging just below the left rear window of the bus, BAT Superintendent Joe McNeil said Wednesday night.

Jason Robinson, 24, has been charged with reckless conduct with a firearm and carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, according to an official at the Penobscot County Jail. Robinson also was being held on a warrant for failure to appear for a criminal mischief charge from Oct. 3, 2008.

He is scheduled to make an initial appearance on Friday at the Penobscot Judicial Center, the jail official said. Bail on the two gun charges has been set at $1,000 combined, and $202 for the failure to appear warrant.

McNeil, who oversees the public bus system that serves several communities in Greater Bangor, said he had to gather information about the incident and file a report with the Federal Transit Authority.

McNeil said that Robinson reportedly wanted to sell the revolver — which Bangor police Sgt. Bob Bishop confirmed was a .357 magnum — and had taken it out to show to other passengers, who were urging him to put it away. The gun then went off, McNeil said, adding that it appeared to be an accidental discharge. He said there were at least 20 passengers on board at the time, which was shortly after 4:15 p.m.

After the gun went off, “the people in the back of the bus indicated [to the bus driver] at first that it was a firecracker, maybe because they were scared,” McNeil said. The driver wasn’t told it was a gunshot until Robinson got off the bus at the intersection of Pine and State streets in Bangor, he said.

About an hour later, Robinson boarded another bus bound for Orono-Old Town at the bus shelter in front of Eastern Maine Medical Center on State Street, about a mile from where he was initially dropped off, McNeil said. A passenger on that bus — who was on the first bus when the shot was fired — recognized Robinson and used his cell phone to call police, McNeil said.

According to Bishop, Robinson was arrested “without incident” at about 6 p.m. by state police Trooper Seth Edwards, who pulled the bus over near the state police barracks in Orono.

Though details were still sketchy Wednesday night, Bishop said that the incident was reported by cell phone at 4:22 p.m. and that he did not yet know if the caller was the bus driver or one of the passengers.

Bishop said that Edwards and his tracking dog, Boris, tracked the suspect’s scent through several backyards in the State Street area, where the suspect had gotten off the first bus, but then lost the scent. About an hour later, Edwards learned that Robinson was on the second bus and he pulled it over in Orono.

McNeil said the driver of the No. 44 bus on which the shooting took place was filling in that day for the route’s regular driver. He said the replacement driver was not available for comment Wednesday evening.

“She went home. She was pretty shook up,” he said.

When contacted at home Wednesday night, the bus driver declined to describe what happened on the bus, saying that she wanted to check with her supervisor first to make sure she was permitted to do so. She said she did plan to report to work today.

According to McNeil, Robinson had stopped by the BAT office earlier in the afternoon to ask a “policy question.” McNeil said Robinson wanted to know about free transfer tickets and reported that he had not received one during a recent bus ride.

McNeil said that Wednesday’s incident was a first for the public transit system.

“I’ve worked for the city for 32 years and never seen anything like this. Never,” he said.

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