Police Nab Napping Man Who Allegedly Threatened Bus Driver

Times Staff Writer

A man suspected of being drunk climbed aboard an Orange County bus Wednesday, said he had a gun and told the bus driver he had 30 seconds to live. But by the time the man had counted off 19 of those seconds, he had fallen fast asleep.

He was awakened after police had surrounded the bus and was arrested on suspicion of being drunk in public. No weapon was found, Costa Mesa police said.

Lt. Cliff McBride identified the suspect at Frank W. Fitus, 24, of Costa Mesa.

Transit District driver Victor Herrera said the man was weaving when he got on his bus shortly before 4:15 p.m.

"He told me he had a .357 Magnum pistol and was going to kill me in 30 seconds. He started counting backward, ticking off the seconds, saying '30 . . . 29 . . . 28.' But by 19 he fell asleep, so I radioed for help," said Herrera, 43. Police said they were told that Fitus got on the bus at Harbor Boulevard and McFadden Avenue in Santa Ana and ordered Herrera to drive at 150 miles per hour or Fitus would kill the driver.

McBride said Herrera did not drive away at 150 m.p.h.--"buses don't go that fast"--but stopped the bus at Scenic Avenue and Harbor Boulevard and let the other passengers off. Police then surrounded the bus with their guns drawn, McBride said. With a loudspeaker, they ordered the suspect off the bus. When he did not respond, they banged on the bus window.

Finally the police boarded the bus and awakened the suspect, McBride said.

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