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Man falls asleep on bus after attempt to rob passenger, police say

A Madison man who tried to rob a Metro Transit passenger at gunpoint Wednesday morning was arrested after he fell asleep against the victim, police said.

A Madison man who tried to rob a Metro Transit passenger at gunpoint Wednesday morning was arrested after he fell asleep against the victim, police said.

Gerald R. Hopewell, 36, was being held in the Dane County Jail on tentative charges including armed robbery, carrying a concealed weapon and possession of a firearm by a felon after officers found him fast asleep on a bus at the East Transfer Point with a .357 magnum handgun in his backpack at about 8:30 a.m.

Metro Transit spokesman Mick Rusch said the incident is one for the training manual for drivers, who work closely with police and have an annual refresher course dealing with safety.

The victim, a 33-year-old Madison man, told police Hopewell had earlier sold him fake marijuana, which was really oregano, while the two were near the South Transfer Point. Both men then got on the eastbound bus, where Hopewell pointed the barrel of a handgun at him, while concealing part of the weapon inside a backpack, and demanded more money, he said.

The victim feared he was going to be killed and said Hopewell, whom he suspected was using drugs, kept nodding off, police said. When Hopewell went completely out, his body leaned into the victim, who pulled the cord to stop the bus, got off and called 911.

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"I'm glad that this happened the way it did," said Rusch, who said bus riders should inform the driver or call 911 or the Metro Transit Call Center at 266-4466 if they believe there might be a problem.

"The police will respond very quickly," Rusch said, adding that Metro Transit also has officers at transfer points at various times of the day.

Metro Transit also has video cameras on buses and can suspend ridership rights for troublesome passengers if their behavior warrants.

(c)2011 The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.)

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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