Bus full of children briefly hijacked, no one hurt

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06 May 2021, 1:27 pm

U.S. Army trainee uses rifle to hijack school bus full of children, S.C. sheriff say

Quote:
A rifle-toting U.S. Army trainee hijacked a busload of children in South Carolina on Thursday before letting the kids off, abandoning the vehicle and surrendering, officials said.

The trainee from Fort Jackson left the base with a rifle — later found to be without ammunition — at about 7 a.m. ET and tried flagging motorists on Interstate 77 before spotting a school bus stop, authorities said.

He "told the bus driver that he didn't want to hurt him, but he wanted him to drive him to the next town," Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said.

The suspect, who was wearing his Army physical training gear, brought all 18 children to the front of the bus, where they "started asking lots of questions to the suspect, if he was going to hurt them or the bus driver," Lott said.

That questioning "frustrated" the intruder before he let the children and driver off, drove himself a short distance, abandoned the bus, left the rifle on board and was captured without incident, according to the sheriff.

The suspect was not immediately identified, but Army Brig. Gen. Milford Beagle Jr. said he's a 23-year-old New Jersey native. The base commander said he believes the young man was homesick, prompting him to scale a tall fence and navigate a thick wooded area to leave Fort Jackson.

The bus driver and the students, who were headed to Forest Lake Elementary School in Columbia, were not harmed.

Some students had cellphones and called their parents, alerting them to the hijacking, officials said. Lott credited the bus driver for keeping his composure.

He was in this third week of a 10-week basic combat training at Fort Jackson, officials said.

The suspect is expected to be charged with multiple counts of kidnapping, authorities said.

He'll also face military discipline for theft of a rifle and being absent without leave, or AWOL, according to Beagle, who doesn't expect the suspect to continue his Army training.


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