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Gibson in court

Dane Gibson shields his face with papers, apparently to stay hidden from TV cameras during a court hearing Thursday. Gibson is accused of hijacking a bus and holding a man hostage in Butte on Jan. 30.

A man accused of hijacking a bus and holding a man hostage outside the Butte Civic Center in January must undergo a mental competency evaluation before a judge considers his request to ditch his public defender and represent himself.

Prosecutors said Dane Anthony Gibson, 52, was to be transported to the Montana State Hospital immediately after a Thursday court hearing, and District Judge Kurt Krueger said he would wait for results of a mental health evaluation before deciding anything further.

But Gibson, holding papers in front of his face apparently to hide it from television cameras, told Krueger again that he wanted to drop public defender Ed Sheehy as Sheehy stood by his side.

“I’m not happy with my attorney at all,” he said.

He said he had requested law books from jailers but had only gotten two and they were outdated. One was from 2013, he said.

“Obviously a lot of things have changed between now and then with legislation,” Gibson said.

But after a few more statements, Krueger interrupted and said he could raise any issues during his mental health evaluation, including any concerns about his physical health, and that nothing further would be considered in court until it was completed.

Gibson faces felony charges of aggravated kidnapping and assault with a weapon stemming from the Jan. 30 incident. 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.

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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.

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.

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.

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Government and politics reporter

Mike Smith is a reporter at the Montana Standard with an emphasis on government and politics.

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