Passenger on Colorado Amtrak train arrested over alleged threats
January 29, 2010
LA JUNTA, Colo. (AP) – An Amtrak passenger who alarmed fellow passengers in Colorado by talking about terrorist threats on a cell phone was pulled from the train and faces a felony charge of endangering public transportation.
Ojore Nuru Lutalo, 64, who was recently released from prison, was arrested Tuesday on an Amtrak passage from Los Angeles to Chicago. Passengers on the train alerted authorities after hearing the man from Elizabeth, N.J., mention al-Qaida and make threats in a cell phone conversation.
Police said in an affidavit that passengers overheard Lutalo saying he hadn’t killed anyone yet, and that he talked about going to jail.
Passengers say the man said, “We have to work in small groups. They can hold you for 18 months. Do they have security on these trains? Are you with me or not?”
One passenger said he heard Lutalo mention al-Qaida, saying, “17th century tactics won’t work, we have 21st century tactics.”
The conductor said Lutalo had a tan blanket over his entire body so the conductor could not see what he was doing.
Lutalo was taken into custody at the La Junta train station in southeastern Colorado. Police said he was not armed or carrying explosives. He was carrying propaganda for an anarchist group called Afrikan Liberation Army.
Lutalo was released Thursday night after posting $30,000 bond, said Otero Country sheriff Chris Johnson. Lutalo’s next court date in Otero County District Court is Feb. 5.
Johnson said federal officials have been notified. FBI spokeswoman Kathy Wright did not immediately have any information.
Lutalo was released in August from a New Jersey prison after a 27-year term for aggravated assault, robbery and two counts of weapons possession. New Jersey authorities said Lutalo has also used the name Leroy Bunting.
Bonnie Kerness, a member of the American Friends Service Committee Prison Watch Program, said Friday that Lutalo was returning to New Jersey from a speaking engagement at a book fair in Los Angeles sponsored by a group that raises money to help prisoners. Kerness, who monitored Lutalo while he was in prison, described him as mild-mannered and polite and had spoken with him by phone several times while he was on the train.
“It seems like so much ado about nothing,” she said from the group’s offices in Newark, N.J.
Information from: The Pueblo Chieftain, http://www.chieftain.com