The U.S. Army apologized after a trainee left Fort Jackson and hijacked a school bus with 18 elementary school students on board Thursday morning.
None of the students was injured, and neither was the school bus driver, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said.
That didn’t stop the Army for taking responsibility for the incident.
“This was a failure in our accountability procedures that we truly regret and are apologetic to our community,” Fort Jackson spokeswoman LA Sully said in a news release. “We are thankful for the fast actions of RCSD and the local community to assist in the apprehension of the individual.”
The trainee ran away from his unit Thursday morning with his Army-issued rifle, according to the release.
Initially, the trainee dressed in PT clothes tried to flag down cars on Interstate 77 before heading to Percival Road, where he saw a bus picking up children at a bus stop, Lott said.
The trainee, whose name has not been publicly released, had the rifle when he got on the bus headed for Forest Lake Elementary School in the Richland 2 district.
With the bus on the move, the trainee brought all of the kids to the front of the bus, where they began to frustrate him with lots of questions, Lott said.
The trainee soon had the driver stop near the intersection of Alpine and Percival roads and let the kids and driver off, the sheriff said. The trainee drove a couple miles, but soon abandoned the bus and left his rifle on board. The trainee had difficulty driving the bus, according to the sheriff.
After leaving the bus on Old Percival Road, the trainee tried to get rides and clothes when he was spotted on I-77 and was taken into custody without incident, according to Lott.
Once Fort Jackson leaders were aware of the hijacking, they worked with the sheriff’s department, Sully said.
The trainee is facing multiple counts of kidnapping and other charges, according to Lott.
Information why the trainee left Fort Jackson was not made available.
This is a developing story, check back for updates.