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Man Arrested After 70-Mile Bus Hijacking in San Diego

February 08, 1997

SAN DIEGO — A knife-wielding man hijacked a transit district bus Friday and led police on a two-hour chase along freeways and residential streets before jumping to the ground and being arrested, authorities said.

The hijacking began shortly after 5 p.m. when the heavyset, disheveled-looking man ordered the driver and the lone passenger off the bus, police said. "He was yelling a lot," the passenger said.

A dozen San Diego police and California Highway Patrol cars and several news helicopters followed the bus until the driver stopped at an intersection in suburban La Mesa and jumped to the pavement. The bus had sideswiped several cars during its journey of more than 70 miles.

For the final hour of the bizarre incident, which was broadcast live on local television, the bus made repeated passes along the same route in a residential neighborhood. Dozens of people lined the route, some running alongside the bus, others taking pictures and some throwing things at it.

Police eventually stopped the bus by laying down a device known as a spike-strip to damage the tires. Soon after the bus hit the strip, it rolled to a stop.

The suspected hijacker resisted as several police officers struggled to handcuff him, and as one police car arrived its wheels apparently brushed against his legs. The man, whose identity was not immediately released, was taken to a local hospital. No other injuries were reported.

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