Richland sheriff identifies Fort Jackson soldier accused of hijacking school bus

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The Richland County Sheriff’s Department has identified an armed Fort Jackson soldier who hijacked a school bus Thursday, according to police.

The department identified 23-year-old Jovan Collazo of New Jersey as the suspect in the hijacking.

He will be charged with 19 counts of kidnapping, arm robbery, pointing and presenting and other offenses, Sheriff Leon Lott said.

Collazo is said to have run away from his unit on the army installation in the morning and began trying to get rides from cars on Interstate 77. He walked to Percival Road where he boarded the bus with 18 children, Lott said at a news conference. Armed with a rifle, He told the bus driver to drive him to the next town before making the driver and the kids get off the bus, Lott said. He then drove the bus himself a few miles up the road. Deputies arrested the soldier near the intersection of Alpine and Percival Roads. The students and the driver were not physically injured.

Fort Jackson is the nation’s largest military basic training base with more than 50,000 recruits assigned there each year,

A Fort Jackson spokesperson said Collazo was an Army “trainee.”

“This was a failure in our accountability procedures that we truly regret and are apologetic to our community,” the base spokesperson said in a statement. “We are thankful for the fast actions of RCSD and the local community toassist in the apprehension of the individual.”

Richland 2 school district thanked police in a statement.

“Once we were certain all students were accounted for and physically safe, we immediately began deploying social and emotional counseling resources to the school so that our students could begin the process of healing as they are dealing with a traumatic event,” Superintendent Baron Davis said in the statement. “We will continue to provide counseling services for the students and their families, our bus driver and employees as long as necessary. We will also cooperate fully with law enforcement as they investigate this incident.”

This is breaking news that will be updated. Check back.

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