A 45-year-old Portland man who threatened to kill a 6-year-old boy on a Greyhound Bus because of the boy’s Hispanic heritage is charged with felony malicious harassment.
James E. Brennan is also charged with misdemeanor counts of assault, battery, and disorderly conduct during the same bus trip.
Witnesses say Brennan threatened to kill three different adult passengers — using a shotgun, pistol, or ax — and then shoved the bus driver after the driver stopped the bus to get Brennan off.
Deputies did not find any weapons on Brennan or in his belonging but did find eight empty beer cans.
Deputies began their investigation just after 7:15 p.m. Thursday when they were called to the Stage Stop truck stop on Interstate 84.
Witnesses say Brennan got on the bus in Twin Falls earlier that day and began drinking beer as the bus went west down I-84.
That was when witnesses say Brennan began yelling racially-biased epithets and threats of violence towards several passengers — including the boy.
The bus driver became so concerned for the safety of the passengers that he pulled the bus over at the I-84 Stage Stop exit ramp to get Brennan off the bus. Witnesses say that’s when Brennan threatened the bus driver with violence before shoving him.
It was around that time when an Ada County Sheriff’s deputy and Idaho State Police officer arrived at the scene. Brennan then grabbed a few of his personal items and got off the bus. Brennan was taken into custody and eventually arrested after deputies interviewed several passengers on the bus.
Brennan is set to make his initial court appearance Friday afternoon.
The felony crime of malicious harassment is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Idaho code defines felony malicious harassment (18-7902) as:
“It shall be unlawful for any person, maliciously and with the specific intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person’s race, color, religion, ancestry, or national origin, to:
(a) Cause physical injury to another person; or
(b) Damage, destroy, or deface any real or personal property of another person; or
(c) Threaten, by word or act, to do the acts prohibited if there is reasonable cause to believe that any of the acts described in subsections (a) and (b) of this section will occur.
For purposes of this section, “deface” shall include, but not be limited to, cross-burnings or the placing of any word or symbol commonly associated with racial, religious or ethnic terrorism on the property of another person without his or her permission.