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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, May 21, 2004

Crockett sending “Stanleys” back home to Abilene

Staff Writer

“Flat Stanleys” from Pecos are on their way to another adventure after spending some time here with students from Crockett Middle School.

The students in Gail Box’s Pre AP classes were all excited when they received their “Flat Stanley” projects.

They were sent to them from an art class in Abilene, made by sixth grade students. The gingerbread man-like Flat Stanley dolls, stemmed from an idea from a book. The character “Flat Stanley” comes from a book written by Jeff Brown. In the book, a boy becomes flat and is sent on an adventure to see a relative in California . Stanley is shipped to several destinations before returning home.

“The guests came with a letter from the students giving details about themselves,” said eighth grade student Gia Lujan. “It explained the students interests and hobbies,” she said.l

The “Flat Stanleys” were little people cut out of cardboard, and they had their own name and personality. They came dressed just like little students, according to Lujan. Each student in Mrs. Box’s class took the “Flat Stanley’s around everywhere with them and took pictures of all the adventures.

“The students changed their clothes and played around with them, according to Lujan. All the students were then asked to write about their experiences and made a scrapbook. “We then sent them back to Abilene with a letter explaining our time together,” said Lujan.

The students said that it was a ‘cool’ and fun way for them to get to know the students through the pictures and letter.

“The class became close to their Stanleys and hated to see them go,” said Lujan.

Egyptian faces hoax charges over bus bomb

Staff Writer

A Greyhound bus traveling from El Paso to Dallas spent over five hours parked on the side of Business Interstate 20 west of Pecos overnight, after a 41-year-old Egyptian man removed from the bus in Sierra Blanca told Border Patrol officials he had left a bomb in his luggage on board the bus.

The man, who was not identified, had been deported from the United States two years ago for being in the country illegally, according to Bill Brooks, Public Information Officer for the Border Patrol’s Marfa Sector. “He’s from Egypt and he was deported from the U.S. in 2002 and now he’s back again,” Brooks said.

Bomb squad members from El Paso and Odessa spent about two hours searching the interior of the bus and the luggage compartments beneath the seats before concluding no bomb was on board the vehicle.

“After searching the bus they said there was nothing on there,” said Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Richard Jacobs, one of many law enforcement officers called out to handle the incident, which began about 9:30 p.m.

That’s when the man removed from the bus at the Sierra Blanca Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 10 told officers there he had a bomb in his bag on the bus. “The Border Patrol called us and asked us to try and find the bus,” Jacobs said. Officials were unable to stop the bus before it left Van Horn, but caught up with it on I-20, just west of Pecos. “We unloaded the bus at the 35 mile marker, and the passengers were hauled into town by the sheriff’s department,” Jacobs said. From there, the bus was then driven off I-20 at Exit 37 and onto Business I-20, in order to allow traffic to continue normally on the interstate highway.

The bus was parked about 150 yards west of the FM 2119 (Duval Road) intersection with Business I-20, which was then blocked off between FM 2119 and I-20 while officers waited for bomb squad teams from Odessa and El Paso to arrive.

The bus was stopped about 10:45 p.m. and the bomb squads, along with a bomb-sniffing dog, arrived at the site about 1:15 a.m. Pecos Volunteer Fire Department trucks and EMS personnel were called out to the site at that time to stand by while the search was conducted.

The officers first looked inside the bus and then removed all the luggage and other cargo from the storage area to look for the bomb, before deciding about 3:30 a.m. that the bomb report was a hoax. Border Patrol officials at the scene also were in contact with FBI agents, who checked luggage claim tickets to see if the suspect might have had luggage on a different bus traveling out of the El Paso area.

“Our assumption right now is the only luggage he had was what he was carrying,” Brooks said

Greyhound driver Larry Hill said there was nothing unusual at first about the checkpoint stop at Sierra Blanca. “They made the normal stop, about 15-20 minutes and used normal procedures,” he said, before removing one person from the bus.

“He got off cool and calm. He didn’t say anything,” Hill said. “They said they were going to check him out. He wasn’t handcuffed or anything, they just said they would do a check on him.”

He described the man as being in his mid-40s with a beard. “I thought he was Spanish, but he might have been Arabic. I never heard him speak, so I couldn’t be positive, Hill said.

Hill said the bus originated in Los Angeles, and that all the passengers had been removed from the bus during a rest stop in El Paso. The bus had a total of 28 passengers, including the suspect in the bomb hoax.

“As I understand it, he did get on that bus in El Paso,” Brooks said. “Why he was in El Paso and how he got there, I don’t know.”

Brooks said as far as criminal charges prior to the bomb hoax, “We don’t know of anything other than illegal entry.”

He added that as of mid-morning, “I don’t know the specifics of how we might have stumbled across him. It could have just been a routine Border Patrol immigration check.” He said agents as a matter of course do immigration checks on bus passengers traveling out of the El Paso-Juarez boarder area. “I don’t know if it came back to his name or photo,” Brooks added.

After being removed from the bus, the other passengers were taken by a Reeves County Sheriff’s Department Transportation Department vehicle to the Flying J Truck Stop, where they waited until officials completed their search and allowed the bus to continue its trip to Dallas.

Meanwhile, the suspect was taken by Border Patrol agents to the Hudspeth County Jail in Sierra Blanca. “He’s in the Hudspeth County Jail on a Border Patrol hold, and he’ll remain until we decide on what to charge him with,” Brooks said. “At some point he’ll be taken to the detention facility in El Paso.”

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