An army trainee armed with a rifle hijacked a school bus full of children in South Carolina, police report.
The bus was taking elementary students to their school in Richland County when the trainee from the Fort Jackson army base took over the bus, initially demanding the driver take him to a nearby town.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott says 18 students and a driver were on board the vehicle when the incident happened at around 7am on Thursday.
All of the students and the driver are safe and the suspect is in custody.
WIS’s Adam Mintzer reports that the trainee, who was in full uniform, got on the bus while children were boarding.
“You can just imagine they were scared to death,” said the Sheriff. “I’ll give the bus driver credit, he kept his cool.”
The suspect stopped the bus after struggling to drive the vehicle and when the children asked if he was going to hurt them, Mr Mintzer reports. He eventually got off the bus, leaving the rifle on board.
Sheriff Lott says the man was in his third week of training at the base when he ran off with the rifle.
The trainee will be charged with multiple counts of kidnapping. Fort Jackson officials are working with the Sheriff’s office as part of the investigation.
Fort Jackson, near Columbia South Carolina, is the US Army’s main basic combat training centre.
The children attend Forest Lake Elementary in Richland School District Two and have been offered counselling.
During the pursuit of the suspect, several other schools in the area were put on lockdown as a precaution.