Sheriff: Kids' Questions Fluster School Bus Hijacker

Army trainee at Fort Jackson in SC boarded bus, eventually let children off; nobody was injured
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 7, 2021 2:40 PM CDT
Trainee Held in Hijacking of School Bus Wanted to Go Home
Fort Jackson Commander Brig. Gen. Milford Beagle speaks to reporters Thursday in Columbia, S.C.   (Stephen Fastenau/The Post And Courier via AP)

An Army trainee is being held in South Carolina after hijacking a school bus with 18 children and the driver on it, authorities said. No one was injured, CNN reports. Pvt. Jovan Collazo, 23—who was in his third week of basic training—wanted to go home, a Fort Jackson spokeswoman said. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said the focus now is on helping the schoolchildren, who were offered counseling after being "scared to death." Collazo, who's in the custody of local authorities, faces charges including 19 counts of kidnapping, armed robbery, carjacking, use of a weapon during a violent crime, and unlawfully carrying a weapon on school property. Army officials said they'll decide whether to charge him once the local case is resolved. Fort Jackson's commander apologized and said he'd fix the breakdown in processes.

The sheriff said the scare began when a trainee jumped a fence during a personal hygiene period before breakfast, carrying a rifle. The spokeswoman said trainees have rifles, in preparation for marksmanship training, but not ammunition, per the Army Times. The sheriff's department then got a call that someone on the interstate was flagging down vehicles and trying to get in. The trainee reached a bus stop and got on the bus as children were boarding, Lott said, and a sheriff's deputy was stopped by a parent who said a man had a gun on their child's school bus. He "told the bus driver he didn't want to hurt him, but wanted him to take him to the next town," the sheriff said. The trainee grew frustrated as the children asked whether he was going to hurt them and ordered everybody out. He drove the bus for a few miles but parked after having trouble with it, Lott said, then walked through a neighborhood looking for "rice and clothes." (More hijacking stories.)

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