In a bizarre court hearing Thursday, a man accused of hijacking a bus and holding a man hostage outside the Civic Center told a judge his public defender had repeatedly lied to him and that he wanted to represent himself.
And according to details about the Jan. 30 incident that are now public, Dane Anthony Gibson, 52, told a hostage he was being discriminated against for being a white male and was being chased by MS-13 gangsters.
The hostage also told police that he was forced to sit on Gibson’s lap before escaping from the bus and leaving the gunman alone in a standoff with police that lasted several more hours before the ordeal ended without anyone injured.
Gibson was arraigned Thursday on felony charges of aggravated kidnapping and assault with a weapon. But as soon as Public Defender Ed Sheehy told District Judge Kurt Krueger he wanted his client to undergo a mental competency evaluation, Gibson interrupted.
“I am not OK with my attorney,” Gibson said with Sheehy by his side. “Every time I have talked to him, he has lied to me. He has lied to me repeatedly. I am totally competent to represent myself.”
Krueger broke in and asked to see Sheehy and Mike Clague, the chief prosecutor in the case, in his chambers. Gibson, handcuffed and shackled at the feet, then sat down at the defense table by himself, clutching papers in his hands.
When Krueger and the attorneys returned, Krueger said he would continue the arraignment and take up Gibson’s request at a separate hearing April 25.
“That’s three days before my birthday,” Gibson said.
When Krueger asked him his age, Gibson said he was "32 and 11 months.” Sheehy later corrected his client for the court, saying he was 52 years old.
“And 11 months,” Gibson said.
Krueger agreed with Sheehy’s request for a mental competency evaluation, but it was not immediately clear when that might happen.
Sheehy then asked Krueger to enter not-guilty pleas for his client, which he did.
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The kidnapping charge carries a minimum two-year prison term and up to life in prison, while the maximum sentence for assault with a weapon is 20 years and a fine of up to $50,000.
According to police and prosecutors, Gibson and Dameane Baumgartner were the only two passengers on a Jefferson Lines bus going from Missoula to Billings when it pulled into Butte for a stop.
The driver heard Gibson say he had a gun and a bomb he had assembled during the trip. Gibson said “he wanted to go to the courthouse and knew who he wanted to speak to … but never told him who that was,” prosecutors said in a charging affidavit that is now public.
The driver went to the Civic Center on Harrison Avenue instead, pulled in around 12:35 p.m., and when Gibson was distracted, hopped off and disabled the bus and front passenger door so it couldn’t be closed.
He told police that Gibson had a white box taped to his left hand with a red button and wire coming off it. Police learned later that it was not a real explosive device.
After about two hours, when police left food and a cell phone at the bus door, Baumgartner shoved Gibson and got off the bus. At 9:25 p.m., police deployed an explosive breaching device, pepper spray, and tear gas, and Gibson left the bus with his gun still on board.
According to the affidavit, Gibson previously told Baumgartner he was going to kill him if he tried to get off the bus. Baumgarter said Gibson was “talking about some crazy stuff.”
“Baumgartner advised (that) Gibson was talking about being discriminated against for being a white male, about being run over and the driver only receiving a citation, about people following him or chasing him, and the gang MS-13 chasing him,” prosecutors said.
“Baumgartner stated while on the bus with Gibson he first had him sit on his lap and then move to a different position as that was uncomfortable,” the affidavit says. “Baumgartner stated the entire time Gibson kept one arm wrapped around his waist with the other holding a gun to his back.”
Before Gibson’s initial appearance before a justice of the peace Feb. 1, Baumgartner told a Montana Standard reporter about other things he had said.
Gibson told him he had worked as a carpenter until he was hit by a vehicle and injured, Baumgartner said. That left him unable to work and feeling resentful, as he perceived minorities were getting benefits that he wasn't receiving.
"He wanted people to hear how the white male is discriminated against," Baumgartner said.