RICHLAND COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – The Richland County sheriff held a press conference Thursday morning after a Fort Jackson trainee left the base and hijacked a school bus.
Sheriff Leon Lott said the incident happened at about 7 a.m.
Lott said the trainee was wearing PT clothes when he left the base with a rifle. The trainee attempted to hitch hike on I-77.
Someone called the sheriff’s office about someone attempting to flag down cars on the interstate. Shortly after, a deputy was stopped on Percival Road by a parents of one of the students on the school bus. The parent told the deputy that their child was on the bus and there was a man with a gun on the bus, Lott said.
Lott said after the trainee didn’t get picked up on the interstate, he noticed some students were waiting at a bus stop on Percival Road to go to Forest Lake Elementary.
After all of the kids got onto the bus, the trainee got on the bus with his rifle and told the driver that he did not want to hurt him. He also told the driver to take him to the next town, Lott said.
The driver started driving, and the trainee brought all of the students to the front of the bus, Lott said. The students started asking the trainee several questions.
The trainee got frustrated and then made the driver and the 18 students get off of the bus.
The trainee drove the bus for a few miles before abandoning the bus. Lott said he left the rifle on the bus.
Lott said the trainee ran through a neighborhood, attempting to get a ride and find new clothes.
Deputies spotted the trainee near Percival Road and I-77. He was arrested without incident.
The sheriff’s office said he will be charged with several counts of kidnapping as well as several other charges.
“You can just imagine they were scared to death,” Lott said. “I’ll give the bus driver credit. He kept his cool. He didn’t overreact. … His main concern was those kids and he did his job.”
No injuries were reported.
“I have been on the board now for over 10 years, and I’ve never received a call that scared me as much as the call that I got this morning. That a bus had been hijacked with our students and staff,” Richland School District Two School Board Chairman James Manning said. “We’re very happy that they’re safe.”
Superintendent Dr. Baron Davis said counseling services were made available to the students upon their arrival at the elementary school.
We will update this story as information becomes available.
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