Most of the Richland 2 students who were on a bus that was hijacked by an armed man on Thursday have returned to school, district officials said at a news conference Friday.
Of the 18 students who were on the hijacked bus, eight of them rode the bus Friday, Richland 2 spokeswoman Libby Roof said. Others were taken separately to school, but the district did not say how many.
A school administrator from Forest Lake Elementary, the school attended by the students on the hijacked bus, will sit on the bus with the students and the bus driver “as needed” in the coming weeks, Superintendent Baron Davis said at a press conference following an emergency school board meeting.
The Richland 2 school board called an emergency meeting after the Thursday incident in which officials said a Fort Jackson trainee escaped with an unloaded assault rifle and used it to hijack a bus full of 18 school children, The State previously reported. Nobody was physically injured in the incident, but officials worry the students could suffer trauma.
The only items on the emergency meeting agenda were discussions of whether to add security personnel or devices to buses, according to the online agenda. The items were discussed in executive session, which are closed to the public. However, public bodies cannot vote on items while in executive session.
Richland 2 will continue to consider adding security measures to school buses, but will likely not announce the specifics as that could compromise security, Roof said.
The man accused of hijacking the bus, Jovan Collazo, 23, a New Jersey native, will be charged with 19 counts of kidnapping, armed robbery, carjacking, pointing and presenting a firearm and more, The State previously reported.
On Friday, Collazo waived his bond hearing, meaning he will stay in jail until at least his next bond hearing, which has not been scheduled yet, The State previously reported.
Fort Jackson officials said Collazo was not trying to hurt anyone, but rather trying to escape from basic training. Army officials apologized following the incident.
A video released by the Richland County Sheriff’s Department shows a man, whom police say is Collazo, pointing a rifle — which only Collazo knew was unloaded — at the bus driver as he hijacked the bus.
Police and school officials praised the bus driver — Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott called the bus driver a “hero” — for keeping his cool and following training. The bus driver has not been identified publicly.
Richland 2 school board chair James Manning agreed with Lott, commending the bus driver for acting well amid a “nightmare scenario,” he said.
Richland 2 officials did not name the bus driver and asked for the public to respect his privacy, Davis said.
“The real heroes yesterday were the bus driver and the students,” Manning said.