Arena football prospect tackles accused bus hijacker

Saturday, February 19th 2005, 10:47 am

By: News On 6

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) _ A Milwaukee man on the bus to Sioux Falls to try out for the Storm arena football team helped tackle a hijacker and wrestle a knife away from her.

Tyrone Rhone Jr., 25, cut his hand in the Thursday episode in southwest Minnesota just across the South Dakota border. He got medical attention and said he expected to make it through most of the workouts for the team this weekend. He received five stitches in his hand.

Rhone, a defensive back, said he noticed a woman crying several hours earlier on the bus. A while later, he saw the woman holding a knife to the bus driver's throat, demanding that the driver take her to her grandmother's house.

``It was a weird looking knife, but personally, I think she knew what she was doing with it,'' he said.

Rhone carefully used his cell phone to call 911, speaking quietly and being careful not to be obvious. ``I never held it to my ear. All I could do is talk and put it down, talk and put it down, and finally seen a police officer, which I was blessed to see a police officer.''

He had to call several times because of a weak battery and poor reception and said he didn't know if he got through to police until they showed up.

``When she seen all the police officers, she got to crying, like real loud,'' Rhone said. ``Just crying because she was real nervous. We were telling her to calm down, relax, just relax.''

A while later, authorities laid down spike strips on the southwest Minnesota highway and the bus had to slow down.

When the driver applied the brakes, Rhone and another passenger rushed the suspect, Jewel Anna Stands, 18, of Utica, Pa., and tackled her. The woman would not let go of the knife, so Rhone grabbed it by the blade.

``That's the only way I could get a grip,'' he said.

Rhone said that after he was bandaged up, he prayed with the bus driver who was also cut several times. ``I have a real strong faith, and I relied on that.''

The football team's general manager, Colin Steen, said even if Rhone won't admit it, he deserves the tile ``hero.''

``To actually physically get to meet him, and find out what type of quality kid he is, football's second to something like this in the reality of life,'' Steen said.

Stands was taken to the Nobles County Jail in Worthington, Minn., and is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday in Luverne to face three assault charges.

Terry Vajgrt, assistant Rock County attorney, said other charges are possible.

``She could also be charged with terrorist threats,'' Vajgrt said. ``You can't tell someone you're going to kill them.''

Les Muck, the Minnesota State Patrol radio communications supervisor in Marshall, was on the other end of the cell phone call.

He said several things helped him figure out where the bus might be. The signal came from a tower near Pipestone, and Muck remembered that he had gotten a call from a Jefferson Lines bus 45 minutes earlier. He said it was unlikely there would be two Jefferson Line buses in the area.

Rhone then told him he saw a sign advertising Split Rock Creek State Park.

Rhone was a good guide, Muck said.

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