Emergency tapes from Rockville Metro bomb scare released

Crowds of people waiting outside Rockville Metro for shuttle busses. (Photo: Jummy Olabanji)

Passengers on a train near the Rockville Metro station panicked when a woman yelled that there was a bomb on the train.

From ABC7’s news helicopter, passengers could be seen fleeing the train as dozens of emergency vehicles raced to the scene. Metro Transit Police, also on board the train, were describing the situation to their dispatchers.

The woman yelled there was a bomb on the train, then got off. People forced their way out, through the front of the train. About three dozen passengers used the door’s emergency levers to get out. They started walking a mile and a half down the tracks to the Twinbrook station.

The Rockville Metro Station has reopened and train service resumed around 9:50 a.m., train service resumed at the station hours after police investigated a bomb threat there. Service at all affected stations have also been restored.

The woman was arrested but not charged, a Metro spokesperson said. Instead, she underwent a mental health evaluation and was involuntarily committed and transferred to a facility for mental health patients.

Metro spokesperson Dan Stessel says police began investigating the incident shortly after 7:30 a.m., which has disrupted Red Line service in both directions.

Metro officials believe the woman was on her way to blow up St. Mary's Catholic Church in Rockville.

Metro Police Deputy Chief Ron Pavlik says the suspect is a 51-year-old McLean woman. During the incident, the woman was overheard saying, "You killed my family, now I'm going to kill you all."

The woman is not a U.S. citizen but is a permanent resident, Stessel said. The woman who made the threat has been involuntarily committed.

Victoria Cho tells ABC7 News that she was on the train with the woman. She says the woman was talking on the phone about a Muslim bombing in India. Apparently, the woman knew someone who was killed in the bombing. Cho says the woman said that she wanted to go to a Catholic church in Rockville and bomb it, then dropped to her knees and started praying extremely loud. The woman reportedly got off the train with a backpack.

Rick German was on the train when the woman boarded at Shady Grove. She was talking on a cell phone and began kneeling by the rail car doors.

“Then she started going into threatening Christians, threatening American Muslims,” said German, a witness. “Then I yelled 'Check the packages!' and we all started checking packages.”

Scott Graham, Montgomery County Police, says witnesses called 911 from the train. Afterwards, he says Metro stopped the train and evacuated its passengers, who had to walk along the tracks between the Twinbrook and Rockville stations. No injuries have been reported.

About five to ten people are being treated at the scene for heat-related issues after power was cut on some of the trains, ABC7 reports.

As a result, some trains turned around on either side at the Twinbrook and Grosvenor station.

According to Montgomery County police, a device carried by the woman doesn't appear to be threat.

Stessel says there is no evidence of any explosive device at the station.

Train service at the Rockville, Shady Grove and Grosvenor stations was halted, and a shuttle bus service was requested to bus commuters to alternate stations.

Around of 10 a.m., Metro rider Steve Crampton, of Rockville, arrived at the Twinbrook station via shuttle bus after experiencing a 20 minute delay as a result of the bomb scare.
He says, despite the incident, the Rockville Station is orderly.

Angela Lee, Metro rider and Southeast resident, says she was delayed an hour this morning. She boarded a train from the Grosvenor station, but it kept stopping. Lee says the passengers on the train were made aware of the incident at the Rockville station via an announcement over the PA system. Lee says she took a shuttle bus from Grosvenor to Twinbrook.

A Montgomery County Bomb Squad is evaluating several passengers who were on train with the suspect. They're also searching the beds of the tracks for potential bombs.