WAUKEGAN, Ill. -- A man facing terror charges for threatening to shoot passengers on a Greyhound bus as it left Milwaukee was denied bond and may return to southeast Wisconsin later this week, a judge ruled on Sunday, January 14th.
Authorities arrested Margarito Vargas-Rosas, 33, aboard the Greyhound bus late Friday night and said he was in the United States illegally. The arrest happened after a police chase down Interstate 94 that began when passengers made 911 calls to report a man claiming to have a gun was threatening to kill people.
Vargas-Rosas, of Chicago, appeared in circuit court in Lake County, Illinois on Sunday. He'll get a public defender before a scheduled 1:30 p.m. Wednesday extradition hearing, according to online court records.
Vargas-Rosas will be charged with making terroristic threats, a felony, and misdemeanor disorderly conduct when he returns to Racine County, Sheriff Christopher Schmaling said this weekend.
Vargas-Rosas was pacing back in and forth between the aisles near the back of the bus and made gestures toward his waistband, indicating he had a gun, Schmaling said.
Deputies followed the bus from Milwaukee County to the Wisconsin-Illinois state line before using spikes. The bus rolled to a stop across the border in Illinois.
"The suspect was ordered out at gunpoint," Schmaling said. "It should be noted that he made threats to law enforcement that transported him, as well as he made threats to my criminal investigators while they interviewed him – threatened to kill them."
Schmaling said he initially thought the suspect had hijacked the bus because it continued down I-94 for 17 miles as deputies followed. But the bus driver later told investigators he didn't stop because he didn't know what was happening in the back of the bus and thought deputies were trying to stop another vehicle.
"I know that it sounds hard to wrap your mind around -- how do you not know you're being pulled over? I think he ultimately recognized this was a serious event when we spiked his tires," Schmaling said.
Officials said they did not find a weapon on Vargas-Rosas, but planned to search the Greyhound bus.
A total of 37 passengers, including the driver and suspect, were on board at the time of the incident. No one was hurt.
"We dodged a bullet. We really did, in my view," Schmaling said.
Vargas-Rosas worked at a restaurant in Milwaukee and used the bus to commute to Chicago. Schmaling said Vargas-Rosas had previously been deported but had returned to the U.S. illegally.
The Racine County Sheriff's Office was assisted at the scene by the Wisconsin State Patrol, Kenosha County Sheriff's Department and Illinois State Police.
Because of this incident, all lanes of southbound I-94 near Wisconsin 50 in Kenosha County were shut down temporarily.
Greyhound brought a second bus to the scene to pick up passengers and take them to Chicago.