OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt called it “a minor inconvenience” when GO passengers were locked on board a bus with a murder suspect for more than 20 minutes on Thursday night.
But at least one passenger is questioning how police handled the situation.
Alexander Ramirez was on the Toronto-bound GO bus when police stopped it on the Gardiner Expressway, near Highway 427 at around 11 p.m.
“I knew right away something was up because I saw two very heavily-armed police officers with automatic assault rifles approaching the door,” Ramirez told CityNews in a phone interview.
According to Ramirez, shortly after the bus was pulled over, the driver got off and locked the passengers on board.
What Ramirez didn’t know at the time was one of the passengers was a murder suspect.
After a tense 20 minutes, several officers entered the bus and arrested Joseph Scott Young.
A day later, Young, 53, was charged with second-degree murder in the death of 19-year-old Tehganni Lewis.
Durham police say Lewis died a week after he was found gravely injured inside a rooming house on Cedar Street in Oshawa in late January
The search for a suspect in Lewis’ death culminated in Thursday’s dramatic arrest, which Ramirez called a “failure in risk mitigation.”
“If this suspect had a weapon on him, my concern is it could have easily turned into a hostage situation or worse,” he said.
“I wanted to know who was in charge of the strategy, having us locked in the bus for 25 minutes with this gentleman who was a murder suspect? Why were we locked with him without knowing what is going on?”
Schmidt, who said Durham police were in charge of the investigation, downplayed the public threat.
“There was no threat to my understanding to anyone on the bus,” he said. “There was a slight inconvenience maybe for the passengers…but at no time were we aware of any threats or any issues that could have resulted in any harm.”
Schmidt said the OPP, along with Toronto and Hamilton police, assisted Durham police in making the arrest.
“We were all talking to one another trying to figure out the best way to move forward…It’s a fluid situation,” he said. “We are going on the best information we had at the time…”