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Man arrested after Amtrak bomb scare

(The following report appeared at Channel3000.com on July 7.)

PORTAGE, Wis. -- One person is in custody after a bomb scare on an Amtrak train in Portage.

Twenty-five-year-old Shaun Welty of Washington state was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon.

For about six hours, deputies and a dog searched the train away from the city. The Columbia County Sheriff's Department said two phone calls came in threatening a bomb was on the train, but no bomb turned up.

Authorities told News 3 they don't believe Welte is connected to the bomb threat. They're still searching for two or three others they think were involved.

During the search, hundreds of passengers were taken to John Muir School for food and shelter. As Amtrak scrambled to try to get them back to Chicago, passengers struggled for hours with a wide range of emotions.

"Oh no, not again, it's the times we live in," said Sandra Tyler, of St. Paul, Minn.

In the school cafeteria, little kids spent the afternoon sleeping and playing ball. One family with a 5-month-old baby needed diapers, which the American Red Cross provided. But the baby's father was frustrated, even though his son was OK.

"He's doing pretty good, a little better," said Bill Swindelhurst, who is heading to the East Coast to visit his family.

Kids who needed medication were taken away in ambulances, while others criticized how many hours it took to get their medication.

"Why not just check the bag and give me my medication," said John Cannizzaro, of New Jersey. "What are we supposed to do when we get to Chicago and we don't have our clothes. This is nonsense."

However, a majority of the passengers didn't think it was nonsense. They said the Red Cross, police and fire are doing their best and they're thankful to be alive.

"I was elated," said Gloria Young, of Mississippi. "No one got hurt or anything like that."

Eventually, a bus took the passengers back to the Portage Depot and the train resumed travel to Chicago. Many said they hope the person that caused their temporary strife will be brought to justice.

"Some kid was very bored today, that was my first reaction," said Susan Feller, of Adams County. "If it was really terrorists, they wouldn't call."

Wednesday, July 7, 2004

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