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W. Phila man charged in Lincoln Tunnel threat

A West Philadelphia man, with a history of mental problems, has been arrested for causing a major scare during rush hour in the Lincoln Tunnel going to New York City.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
A West Philadelphia man, with a history of mental problems, has been arrested for causing a major scare during rush hour in the Lincoln Tunnel going to New York City.

Police say 39-year-old Donald Wallace called 911 saying he had high-powered weapons and was heading into the city to do harm.

There were tense moments as armed SWAT teams searched for a suspect on a train full of innocent commuters.

"SWAT people with guns who told us to get off," said Luca McLaughlin.

"As soon as we saw all the commotion, we realized there was something going on in the back car. It was pretty scary at the time," said Daniel Nussbaum.

For hours, police swarmed Weehawken near the Lincoln Tunnel looking for signs of Wallace.

Police say he made the call from a cell phone used at a lumber store at 19th and Park streets.

The call led police to lock down the entire area at the height of rush hour, causing traffic jams.

"I mean there's tankers and all the police, I have no idea what's going on, I'm just trying to get home to my 6-month-old," said Tara Tanico.

Commuters were forced off their buses to trudge miles home.

Police had just sounded the all clear when someone called in a report of a man with a gun on a light rail train passing within feet of the lumber yard.

SWAT teams swarmed the train and briefly handcuffed one man before letting him go.

Late Tuesday night, New York police tracked down Wallace at West 47th Street and 11th Avenue.

Meanwhile, Wallace's neighbors on the 1400 block of North Hobart Street in West Philadelphia say he was known for his strange behavior but they never expected anything like this.

"It's mind blowing, mind blowing," said Cathy Gibson.

Neighbors say Wallace had been taken in for mental health evaluations for several strange incidents on their block.

"Just dressing funny and walking up and down the streets, some days with a baseball bat saying crazy things, talking to himself," said another neighbor.

"It's crazy to live a few doors away, it's crazy. You could say you never know who you live next to," said Gibson.

Authorities say Wallace has significant prior arrest record in Georgia, Virginia, and Philadelphia.

For the Lincoln Tunnel incident he faces charges including creating a false public alarm and making terroristic threats.
Related Topics:
news new york philly news lincoln tunnel guns West Philadelphia
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