According to local authorities in South Carolina, an armed military trainee who kidnapped a school bus let all the kids off because they were asking too many questions.
“The kids were asking questions. ‘Are you gonna hurt us?’ ‘Are you a soldier?’ ‘Are you a bus driver? So they were being kids, they were being kids,” said the sheriff, “I think that added to the frustration that he had.”
Jovan Collazo, a 23-year-old trainee at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, boarded the bus with a firearm and told the driver that he “didn’t want to hurt him,” but that the bus should be driven to a town with the children on board.
In a press conference, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told reporters that there were 18 children onboard who bombarded the hijacker with questions, making the situation ‘frustrating.’ Collazo then freed the driver and the children after a six-minute standoff. He drove a short distance down the interstate before pulling over and abandoning the car.
Collazo directed all 18 children to the front of the bus, but according to Lott, the situation became “frustrating” for the alleged hijacker when they bombarded him with questions.
It appears that the alleged hijacker couldn’t stand the question for long, and after only six minutes, he let the driver and all of the children off the bus. He only took the bus for a short distance before abandoning it.
Lott said it was the first time in his career that a school bus had been hijacked by an armed suspect, but the driver had recently been trained to deal with such an incident.
He continued, ” “Bus drivers are true unsung heroes, as we witnessed today. We noticed a bus driver who was concerned about the children on board.”
“There was six minutes – they were traumatized,” the sheriff added of the children. The bad guy with the gun was on the bus for six minutes.”
A man holding a firearm and dressed in a T-shirt with the word “ARMY” on the front was also seen onboard the bus, according to footage released.
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
According to Lott, the trainee “ran off post and escaped” with a rifle from the installation while dressed in physical training clothes. Deputies began receiving calls about a person flagging down cars on a nearby interstate. Then, armed with the rifle, he went to a nearby bus stop where children were waiting to be taken to Forest Lake Elementary School and boarded the bus himself.
“Close the door, drive, drive!” the individual, believed to be Collazo, could be heard shouting at the driver.
Brig. Gen. Milford H. Beagle Jr., commander of Fort Jackson, said the trainee was 23 years old and lacked ammunition in his weapon, which had been issued as part of his training. “He was a very quiet individual from New Jersey… and we determined that he was simply attempting to return home,” Beagle said. He went on to say, “There is nothing that leads us to believe… that this had anything to do with harming others, harming himself, or anything that links to any other type of nefarious activity.”
The 23-year-old was arrested and charged with 19 counts of kidnapping, armed robbery, and several other felonies after leaving Fort Jackson after only three weeks of training.