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Army trainee arrested after hijacking South Carolina school bus; no one hurt

By
Don Johnson

May 6 (UPI) -- An Army trainee from Fort Jackson was arrested Thursday after he hijacked a South Carolina elementary school bus with 18 children on board, authorities said. No one was hurt.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said at a news conference that the Forest Lake Elementary students and the bus driver are safe.

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The sheriff described the incident as "one of the scariest calls that we could get in law enforcement."

The trainee will be charged with multiple counts of kidnapping, Lott said. His name has not been released.

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Lott said children were boarding the bus about 7 a.m. Thursday when the armed suspect got on at a bus stop. The man, who was carrying a rifle, told the driver he didn't want to hurt him, but wanted him to drive him to the next town, the sheriff said.

The suspect brought the children to the front of the bus as the driver began to drive, Lott said.

"The kids started asking lots of questions to the suspect if he was going to hurt them or the bus driver. The suspect got a little frustrated," Lott said, according to ABC News.

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The driver pulled the bus over and let the children and driver get off without incident.

The suspect drove the bus for a few miles before abandoning it and leaving the rifle inside, Lott said.

He was spotted by deputies and residents and arrested, the sheriff said.

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Lott said authorities were alerted to the situation by a parent. He said some of the children on the bus had cell phones. He said the parents were "scared to death."

Lott praised the bus driver, who has not been identified, saying he "kept his cool" and "kept the situation calm."

"His main concern was the safety of those kids and he did his job," Lott said, according to ABC News.

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