Authorities say an armed military trainee accused of hijacking a school bus let the kids off after they irritated him by asking so many questions.
On Thursday, Jovan Collazo, a 23-year-old trainee at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, boarded a bus near an interstate highway and demanded that the driver diverts to a nearby area.
In a press conference, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told reporters that Mr. Collazo “told the bus driver that he didn’t want to hurt him,” but just wanted to travel to a town with the children on board.
Mr. Collazo directed all 18 children to the front of the bus, but according to Mr. Lott, the situation became “frustrating” for the suspected hijacker as they bombarded him with questions.
“The children were inquisitive. ‘Are you going to harm us?’ ‘Are you in the military?’ ‘Do you work as a bus driver? So they were acting like kids,” the sheriff said, “and I believe that added to his frustration.”
The military trainee let the driver and the children off the bus after six minutes, then drove a short distance along the interstate before halting and abandoning the vehicle.
Mr. Lott said it was the first time in his career that a school bus had been stolen by an armed suspect, but that the driver had recently been equipped to handle such an incident.
Mr. Lott said, “Bus drivers are unsung heroes, and we saw that today.” “We saw a bus driver who was concerned about the children on board.”
“There was six minutes, six minutes, they were traumatized,” the sheriff added of the girls. The bad man with the gun was on the bus for six minutes.”
A man carrying a weapon and dressed in a T-shirt with the word “ARMY” on the front was also seen onboard the bus, according to footage released.
“Close the door, drive, drive!” the man, believed to be Mr. Collazo could be heard shouting at the driver.
According to Mr. Lott, the 23-year-old was arrested and charged with 19 counts of abduction, armed robbery, and several other felonies after leaving Fort Jackson after just three weeks of school.
A Fort Jackson trainee is being charged with 19 counts of kidnapping, along with carjacking & gun charges after allegedly hijacking a school bus with students this morning. We have the latest details here @wspa7 https://t.co/2gOB6jfc4n pic.twitter.com/C1pfHamsYK
— Jason Raven (@JasonRaven_) May 7, 2021