A Fort Jackson trainee is in custody after he allegedly hijacked a South Carolina elementary school bus while carrying a rifle. All 18 children and the bus driver on board.
The incident began around 7 a.m. Thursday when the suspect allegedly hopped a barbed wire fence and fled Fort Jackson, according to Lott and Beagle.
The children had boarded the bus when the armed suspect, Jovan Collazo, got on and allegedly “told the bus driver he didn’t want to hurt him, but he wanted him to drive him to the next town,” Lott said.
The sheriff’s office released surveillance video from inside the school bus showing the suspect pointing a rifle at the bus driver and telling him to drive.
The bus driver started driving and Collazo brought the children to the front of the bus, Lott said.
“The kids started asking lots of questions to the suspect if he was going to hurt them or the bus driver,” Lott said.
“The suspect got a little frustrated,” Lott said, and the driver pulled over.After six minutes on board with Collazo, the children and the bus driver got off safely, Lott said.
The suspect then drove the bus for a few miles before abandoning it, leaving the rifle inside, Lott said.Collazo was spotted by deputies and civilians and was arrested without incident, Lott said.
He faces charges including kidnapping, Lott said.Beagle described the trainee, believed to be in his third week at Fort Jackson, as a quiet 23-year-old from New Jersey. He said it appeared the trainee was trying to get home.
“There is nothing that leads us to believe in his counseling, in his screening records coming in, that this had anything to do with harming others, harming himself or anything that links to any type of nefarious activity,” Beagle said.
“We do experience several soldiers that over the course of initial stages have that desire, that anxiety, and due to separation from their families, to get home. We think that was truly his intent and nothing beyond that.
The students were taken to school “where they received support from school employees and counselors and were reunited with their parents/guardians,” the school district said.