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Mass. Guardsman may face discipline after chasing busload of ‘migrants’ who turned out to be tourists

The man reportedly believed the tour bus was part of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s efforts to transport migrants from the southern U.S. border up north.

Joint Base Cape Cod, where many of the migrants who arrived in Martha's Vineyard earlier this month are staying temporarily. MEMA

An off-duty Massachusetts National Guardsman thought he was pursuing a busload of migrants when he allegedly followed a coach bus to a Cape Cod hotel on Sept. 19. Instead, he found the bus full of senior citizens on vacation.

The guardsman, 51, reportedly believed the bus was part of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s efforts to transport migrants from the southern U.S. border up north, according to the Cape Cod Times, which first reported the story. Earlier this month, DeSantis flew about 50 migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.

Many of the migrants have since relocated to Joint Base Cape Cod, where the guardsman serves full-time as an administrative officer with the 101st Regimental Training Institute, according to the Massachusetts National Guard.

Migrants in Mass.:

His nighttime pursuit lasted 10 or more miles, mainly along Route 28 south, according to the Times. The guardsman reportedly recorded the incident on Facebook Live, though later deleted the video.

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He thought the bus was full of migrants because of a Tallahassee, Florida sign on the side of the bus, according to the Cape Cod Times

“Look at this,” he said in a recording of the livestream obtained by the Times. “Tallahassee, Florida. A busload. Look at this. I’m following it all the way to the end. DeSantis bringing the border to your place.”

When the bus reached the Admiralty Inn & Suites in East Falmouth, there was a verbal altercation between passengers and the guardsman, bus driver Michael Vaughn — who owns Tallahassee-based Mike’s Limousine — told the newspaper. Onboard were 37 seniors from Memphis, Tennessee, who were touring the Cape.

The guardsman boarded the bus uninvited, but seemed to realize it didn’t contain migrants, according to the Times.

“I am sorry,” he said in a video. “I didn’t respect you guys. I am sorry.”

Falmouth police responded to the scene, and the guardsman was taken away by ambulance, according to the Times

The Falmouth Police Department incident report said the guardsman may have been impaired and was perhaps suffering from a mental health situation, the newspaper said, adding that no charges had been filed against him as of Tuesday morning. Boston.com has reached out to the Falmouth Police Department for confirmation.

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However, he may face disciplinary action through the National Guard.

“The Massachusetts National Guard considers the conduct of this soldier to be inappropriate and inconsistent with our military values,” Col. Mark Kalin, commander of the Massachusetts Army National Guard, said in a statement provided to Boston.com.

He added: “We are currently working to ensure our service member is evaluated and receives any services he may need, while also reviewing appropriate disciplinary actions.”

Admiralty General Manager Eric Zmuda told WBZ that passengers onboard the bus seemed terrified during the encounter. 

“It was just a very strange situation,” he told WBZ. “I had a conversation with a few guests the following morning that it was an extremely unusual occurrence, but that they were happy the police were there to help.”

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