A former lawful permanent resident, who was once an enlisted member of the U.S. Navy, was deported Wednesday to Panama. He had killed two people during a 1977 hostage standoff at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. The man was escorted from Buffalo, N.Y., to Panama by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
On Nov. 14, 2011, Luis Robinson, 61, a Panamanian national formerly of Somerset, N.J., was arrested and placed into ERO custody after being paroled from the New York State Department of Corrections. Robinson served 34 years in prison for two counts of 2nd degree murder.
According to court documents, on July 4, 1977, Robinson commandeered a 47-foot Vermont Transit Lines bus that originated in Manhattan and was bound for Hartford, Conn., Springfield, Mass., and Burlington and White River Junction, Vt. As the bus traveled through the Bronx in New York, Robinson hijacked the bus, and shot one individual. Robinson then ordered the driver to take him to Kennedy Airport. He then ordered the driver to crash through a padlocked security gate to gain access to the airport tarmac. Airport officials immediately suspended operations, as the bus stopped near a Trans World Airlines terminal. Previous media reporting said the airport closure snarled Independence Day travels plans for an estimated 15,000 travelers.
When cornered and confronted by law enforcement, Robinson killed a hostage and threw her body out on the tarmac. While Robinson’s back was facing the bus driver, the bus driver attempted to disarm Robinson. Robinson then killed the bus driver and dumped his body on the tarmac.
Once contacted by negotiators, Robinson demanded a $6 million ransom and a DC-8 aircraft to take him to Cuba. During the nine-hour hostage standoff at the airport, Robinson wounded one more hostage before releasing the remaining hostages and surrendering. He was immediately taken into custody by the New York City Police Department. In total, two individuals were shot to death and three others were injured by Robinson.
On Sept. 6, 1978, Robinson pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 15-years-to-life in prison.
Robinson entered the United States June 12, 1964, in the New York-area as a lawful permanent resident. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on June 24, 1976. During the time of the hostage situation, he was a USS Detroit apprentice seaman, and was due back to the Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, on July 4, 1977.
He was discharged from the U.S. Navy in absentia on July 7, 1980. On April 1, 1999, a U.S. immigration judge revoked his lawful permanent resident status and ordered him removed from the United States at the completion of his criminal sentence.