Alert Tanker Driver Thwarts Hijacking

| April 07, 2005

An FBI composite of a man suspected of attempting to hijack a truck hauling gasoline. If you have any information on this suspect, call the FBI at 317-321-6147.

A tanker driver who foiled a hijacking attempt near Bloomington, Ind., handled the situation correctly, said an FBI spokesman.

The driver of a tanker loaded with 88,000 pounds of gasoline reported two people in a GMC Yukon attempted to hijack him March 24. The incident occurred as he was traveling south on SR 37, south of Martinsville, according to Indiana State Police.

Truckers encountering similar threats should contact local police immediately if possible, said Doug Garrison, a special agent for the Indianapolis FBI division. The trucker, who has not been publicly identified, kept driving after he says a passenger in the GMC brandished a gun at him.

The trucker contacted his dispatcher, who then contacted a district manager who connected the trucker to police, said trooper Jackie Taylor.

Contacting a dispatcher can also be effective because they should have local police contact numbers for any area the trucker travels through. If the trucker can do so safely, he should try to get as much information about suspects as possible, Garrison said.

“It’s whatever the most efficient method is to report the incident,” he said. “This guy did just the right thing.”

Garrison said al Qaeda has publicly stated that one terrorism method they would use is to hijack tankers and crash them into schools and other facilities. Still, the hijacking attempt might be unrelated to terrorism. For example, in some large cities, tankers have been stolen for resale, Garrison said.

This is the first attempted tanker hijacking the FBI’s Indianapolis division has investigated. The agency received leads soon after releasing a sketch of the armed suspect, described as a bald white male with a puffy face and goatee, Garrison said.

The trucker is a driver for McDaniel Transport of Indianapolis.

Taylor said the trucker reported that a newer-model white GMC Yukon with no license plates began tailgating him. The GMC driver then turned on flashing red-and-blue lights in the grille of the vehicle.

The motorist then pulled up slowly beside the trucker, and a male passenger in the GMC appeared to look closely at the truck’s tank and axles. The passenger rolled his window down and showed the trucker his firearm and then the GMC continued driving, Taylor said.

The dispatcher told the trucker not to pull over until he was in a less remote area. The trucker later stopped at a service station, and by then carrier employees had patched the trucker’s call through to the Bloomington state police post.

The GMC had dark tinted windows and the trucker could not see its driver, Taylor said.

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